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Empty Prisons Mean Dangerous Streets

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Empty Prisons Mean Dangerous Streets

The Wall Street Journal February 5, 2020
Urban PolicyCrime

On both sides of the Atlantic, a raft of soft-on-crime policies are putting people at risk.

After a second stabbing spree by a paroled jihadist in less than three months, the British government is reconsidering its early-release policies for people convicted of terrorist acts. Bully for the Brits, but what’s taken them so bloody long?

Last November, Usman Khan murdered two people in a terror attack near London Bridge and then was killed by police. On Sunday afternoon, fellow Islamic extremist Sudesh Amman strapped on a fake suicide belt and knifed two random pedestrians before also being shot dead by authorities. Under the current system, terrorism offenders can be automatically released halfway through their prison terms. Khan had been free for a year after serving half of a 16-year sentence, and Amman was paroled less than two weeks ago. A fellow former inmate who knew Amman told a British newspaper, “The guy was definitely insane and he never hid his intentions, so it’s crazy how he even got out of jail.”

We haven’t reached the same level of absurdity on this side of the Atlantic, but give it time. In the guise of “bail reform,” New York state has implemented new policies that make it harder to keep defendants—including those with long criminal histories—locked up before trial. Proponents say the changes, which eliminate cash bail for misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies, were needed to make the criminal-justice system fairer for low-income suspects. That argument has a certain logic to it. Whether someone is released pending trial should be determined by whether he’s a threat to the community or a flight risk, not by whether he can afford to post bail.

Continue reading the entire piece here at The Wall Street Journal (paywall)


Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images