Leniency to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent far too often. CWB Chicago reports yet another example. Zebedee Thomas has been charged in Cook County with rape and other crimes committed last August. A DNA match confirms identity. Thomas previously pleaded guilty to a sexual assault on a 7-year-old committed while a juvenile. In 2022, he was sentenced to four years for unlawful imprisonment in Kentucky.

Why was a repeating violent criminal who had been sentenced to four years in prison back on the street the very next year to commit yet another horrific crime?

Many years ago, Americans were fed up with overly early releases and passed “truth in sentencing” laws, which generally limited time off for violent criminals at 15%. More recently, there has been a sustained assault on such laws, and people who should know better have repealed them or watered them down.

Generally, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Some people do see the light and go straight, but they are the exceptions. People who already have a record of repeated crime before they go to prison generally return to crime after they get out, and the much-touted rehabilitation programs only make minor changes at the margins of the recidivism rate.

The price is paid in the trauma and sometimes death of innocent people.

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