Criminal justice reformers want to decriminalize prison escapes, eliminating penalties for escaping from prison

Criminal justice reformers want to decriminalize prison escapes, eliminating penalties for escaping from prison

Criminal justice “reformers” want to decriminalize prison escapes, viewing it as cruel to punish criminals for escaping from prison. Attorney Markus Funk argues that would be a bad idea, in an article in The Hill:

It would be a mistake to accept the invitation to follow the examples of countries like Germany … which do not outlaw nonviolent prisoner escapes ….

German law exemplifies the logic used to justify this lenient approach. The “urge to be free” is said to be deeply ingrained in human nature, rendering the prisoner acting on the “instinct to escape” insufficiently morally blameworthy to justify additional charges. The number of prior escape attempts, like the inmate’s criminal history, do not factor in….

[But] democratic, rule-of-law-based justice systems, like the prisons that house those unwilling to comply with society’s most basic rules, are purpose-built to protect the public from convicted criminals …. They use punishment to deter undesirable conduct…

Advocates like the Urban Institute may contend that the public need not “be worried about prison escapes.” Courts throughout the U.S., however, have appropriately noted that escapees, by their very nature, operate under “supercharged emotions.” They pose a significant threat to those assigned to recapture them, as well as to the public more generally. Further, recapturing an escapee — particularly one who has crossed state lines or the U.S. border — also predictably places a significant financial burden on the taxpayer.

Finally, the reformers’ appeal to human nature makes for a particularly treacherous slippery slope. If we permit a “natural impulses” argument for prison escapees, then why not for those who assault child abusers, steal to feed their families, are overcome with road rage, etc.?…our system of justice is premised on the expectation that we will conform our conduct to the law’s requirements, even when doing so is anything but easy….

Recently, a leading lobbyist for criminal justice “reform” was arrested for beating his wife, which he apparently did on multiple occasions, breaking her finger and a tooth. The beatings apparently left his wife with “bruises all over” her body. The criminal justice reformer, who was convicted of robbery in his youth before becoming a law professor, ordered his wife to stay in the basement with the door locked when police came to their house. But the cops figured out she was in the house, not out of town as the criminal-justice reformer falsely claimed. He might have killed her had the cops not followed up on their suspicions that a domestic violence victim was trapped inside. “I am more than sure if I did not stay and find [the victim], she would not be with us today,” said Officer JP Mcardle, according to the London Daily Mail.

That wife-beater was 48 years old. Yet many “criminal-justice reformers” falsely claim people age out of crime by their late 30s, and thus can be safely released on parole by the time they are middle-aged. That claim is at odds with thousands of killings by people in their 40s, such as when a prisoner recently escaped from prison at age 46 and murdered five people.

The Law Enforcement Action Partnership, which is funded by left-wing billionaire George Soros‘ foundation, has mistakenly claimed that keeping people in prison who were sent there “a decade ago” does “very little, if anything, to maintain safety.” But a Texas inmate recently escaped and killed five people even after being imprisoned for 16 years.

Experts say many inmates often do not age out of crime, even when they reach their 50s or 60s. Last February, the U.S. Sentencing Commission issued a 116-page report titled “Recidivism of Federal Violent Offenders Released in 2010.” Over an eight-year period, violent offenders returned to crime at a 63.8% rate. The median time to rearrest was 16 months for these violent offenders. So, most violent offenders released from prison committed more crimes. Even among those offenders over age 60, 25.1% of violent offenders were rearrested.

At the age of 76, Albert Flick murdered a woman, stabbing her at least 11 times while her twin children watched. He had earlier spent 25 years in prison for killing his wife by stabbing her 14 times in front of her daughter.

At the age of 19, while on parole, Kenneth McDuff shot and killed two boys, then killed a girl after raping her and torturing her with burns and a broomstick. After being paroled years later at the age of 43, he murdered additional women — as many as 15 women in several states.

Last year, a transgender murderer was arrested for killing again at age 83 after two prior murder convictions. Thus, it’s wrong to claim that inmates swiftly age of out of crime, or that inmates can safely be released just because they have reached a particular age, as supporters of New York’s Elder Parole bill and Virginia’s second-look bill have claimed.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.