Over the past two years, the U.S. has experienced the largest crime surge in decades. A former public defender and a public safety expert weigh in.
In the first week of September, Eliza Fletcher went for a run near the University of Memphis and never returned. The 34-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother of two was reported missing by her husband and was soon found dead. According to NBC News, security camera footage showed that she was kidnapped before she was killed. Police have since arrested and charged 38-year-old Cleotha Abston with her abduction and murder.
Abston has a lengthy criminal history, dating back to when he was a juvenile—a history that includes convictions for rape and kidnapping. In 2000, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison, and was released after serving 20 years of that sentence in 2020—four years too soon, it seems. What’s more, Abston has since been charged in yet another kidnapping and rape that police say occurred last year, not long after his release from prison. Those charges stem from the results of a rape kit that was received almost a year ago, but not processed quickly, resulting in an apparently fatal delay. Had the authorities moved faster, Abston might have been apprehended sooner, and Fletcher might still be alive.
Rafael Mangual is the Nick Ohnell Fellow and head of research for the Policing and Public Safety Initiative at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. He is also the author of Criminal (In)Justice: What the Push for Decarceration and Depolicing Gets Wrong and Who It Hurts Most.
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