Five years ago, I wrote an article, on the old site, Why Officer Charles Cassidy is dead. That article noted that the then-alleged, and subsequently convicted, killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Charles Cassidy had already been arrested several times, and was treated leniently:
Unfortunately, in the City of Brotherly Love, Mayor John Street’s administration, including Police Commissioner (Sylvester) Johnson and District Attorney Lynne Abraham, apparently think that law enforcement is like fishing: if the fish they catch is too small, they just throw it back into the water.
Well, if we assume that Mr Lewis actually is the killer, the city’s “catch and release” program is directly responsible for the murder of Officer Cassidy. Mr Lewis was arrested in 2005 for drug charges, including possession with intent to distribute. In other words, he was a drug dealer. Rather than do the right thing, and prosecute him to the full extent of the law, they offered him a treatment program, and when he completed it, they not only dropped the charges, but dismissed charges, including attempted theft, committed subsequently. Then, in February of this year, he got busted again on drug charges, but on October 31st, Mr Lewis was still out on the streets.
An aberration? Perhaps not. I also noted that Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer Patrick McDonald is dead because Daniel Giddings, his killer, was treated leniently by thankfully now retired Common Pleas Court Judge Lynn B. Hamlin, who, despite Mr Giddings’ lengthy juvenile record and pleas from Assistant District Attorney Joseph Coolican to lock up Mr Giddings for as long as the law allowed, because there was “absolutely no reason to believe” it would ever be safe to release the thug back into society, sentenced Mr Giddings to the mandatory minimum of 6-to-12 years for robbing and shooting a man in the kneecaps. Then, despite him being charged 27 times with disciplinary problems in prison and spending 537 days in solitary confinement, prison officials recommended, and the state parole board accepted, that he be paroled early.
Philadelphia Police Officer Timothy Simpson is dead because officials did not try to apprehend William Allan Foster, a junkie, career thief and scofflaw from Levittown, when he failed to appear for a series of probation violations, even though the judge ordered his arrest. Mr Foster didn’t kill Officer Simpson with a gun, which he wouldn’t have been allowed to carry, but an automobile, which he wasn’t allowed to drive.
Are you starting to see a pattern here?
Well, Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker, Jr, is dead because, once again, the law enforcement bureaucracy didn’t do its job:
Work began after accused cop-killer Rafael Jones had no electronic monitoring for up to two weeks.
By Mark Fazlollah, Mike Newall, Joseph A. Slobodzian, and Dan Hardy, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writers
The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole said Saturday it was reviewing its policies on monitoring probation offenders after allowing accused cop-killer Rafael Jones to go without a required electronic ankle bracelet for up to two weeks after he was released from jail and placed on house arrest.¹
Jones is accused of killing Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. on Aug. 18, 10 days after Jones walked free from a Philadelphia prison on an order from Common Pleas Judge Susan I. Schulman.
In a statement, board chairman Michael C. Potteiger said Jones was allowed to go without the monitor because there was no telephone line in the home he had been approved to live in. A landline is needed for electronic monitoring to function.
Prisoners released to house arrest are not always monitored electronically from the moment they get out of jail, according to Potteiger’s statement.
Judge Schulman had ordered electronic monitoring of Mr Jones upon his release, but her order was not carried out. Mr Jones and an alleged accomplice, Chancier McFarland, are said to have attempted to rob Officer Walker while he was walking to the bus stop, in civilian clothes, after the end of his duty shift.² Mr Walker attempted to draw his service weapon, and was gunned down.
Judge Schulman’s order for electronic monitoring was not carried out; that is certainly not the fault of the judge. However, Mr Jones was being released to house arrest after violating his existing probation on a firearms conviction; state parole agent José Rodriguez recommended that Jones be released on probation and put on electronic monitoring.
Schulman, who in 2008 sentenced Jones to a four-year prison term for a gun conviction, noted Jones’ juvenile record and warned him that she was not impressed with his record since had finished his sentence in October.
Jones’ juvenile record goes back to age 12, when he was charged with throwing a rock through his mother’s front door. He was arrested at 15 for selling drugs and then caught in a stolen Jeep.
His first gun arrest was when he was 17, when officers said they caught him with a loaded .38-caliber revolver.
“To see that I am concerned about you would be an understatement,” Schulman told Jones.
That timeline might seem confusing, but there’s more to it: Mr Jones had been arrested in February on armed robbery charges, and those charges were dropped, but he was being held on violation of probation. The Inquirer did not specify why the charges were dropped, but both the parole officer and judge had to know about the charges.
The real question is not why the law enforcement bureaucracy let Mr Jones back on the street without the ordered electronic monitoring which had been ordered by Judge Schulman, but why parole officer Rodriguez recommended, and Judge Schulman accepted, releasing him under any conditions? Why wasn’t this man in jail on the day that he shot Officer Walker? He could have been, and quite obviously should have been, but he wasn’t, and now yet another Philadelphia Police Officer is dead.
Judge Schulman said that she was concerned about releasing Mr Jones. Why, then, did she release him? By now, it ought to be obvious: when you have these thugs in custody, thugs with long rap sheets, you should lock them away for every last second that the law allows. The Judge gave Mr Jones a third or fourth chance, and he was out of jail for only ten days before he was attempting armed robbery on the streets.³ These thugs should be kept in jail, not to try to rehabilitate them — that sure doesn’t seem to work — but to keep them off the streets, away from the public. The longer they are locked up, the less time that they have available to commit crimes out on the streets.
Assuming that he is the killer of Mr Walker, Mr Jones is the man who is responsible for the death of the officer. But he was, in a very real sense, enabled by an overly lenient criminal justice system in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, one which had the power to keep him behind bars, and chose to do otherwise. Parole officer Rodriguez and Judge Schulman, and the people in the system which allowed Mr Jones out on the street without the court-ordered monitoring device, will pay no criminal penalties for their terrible decisions and their workplace negligence, but I hope that they are miserable right now, are crying themselves to sleep every night, knowing that they failed, knowing that their actions, or inaction, contributed to putting a 19-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department six feet under.
Cross posted on THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL.
¹ – Most links to stories in The Philadelphia Inquirer become inactive after a few weeks. All links in this article were active on the date that this article was published.
² – The Inquirer reported on Friday that, according to “police sources,” Mr Jones confessed to the killing of Officer Walker.
³ – It might have been less than ten days, probably was less than ten days, but the last incident is the one we know about.