The arrest of a Florida inmate who was released last month in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus behind bars is racing across social media as authorities in other states prepare to release prisoners due to the pandemic.
Fox News is reporting the arrest of Joseph Edward Williams, who was released last month from the Orient Road Jail. The 26-year-old suspect was one of a hundred inmates released March 19. He had been held on drug charges, but when he was arrested earlier this week, it was for something more serious. He now faces charges of second-degree murder, “resisting an officer with violence, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin, and possession of drug paraphernalia,” according to WTVT, the Fox affiliate in Tampa.
According to published reports, the suspect has been arrested 35 times.
A report quoted Sheriff Chad Chronister, who stated, “There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense.”
According to WTSP News, Williams had been considered a “low-level” offender, a label that is raising eyebrows elsewhere that inmates are being released. For example, up in Washington State at the far end of the nation, Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to release nearly 1,000 “low-level offenders” takes on new meaning when one reads a post from John Carlson, morning drive time host at KVI-AM in Seattle. According to Carlson, “Here are some of the crimes that qualify as ‘non-violent’ felonies on Inslee’s list: Child Molestation, 2nd and 3rd degree. Rape, 3rd degree, Rape of a Child, 3rd degree, Sexual Misconduct with a Child, 1st degree, Possession of Child Pornography, Vehicular Homicide, Assault, 3rd degree, Animal Cruelty (torturing an animal), Stealing Firearms.
“His administration also announced that they won’t have time to notify victims that the criminals who victimized them are being released early,” Carlson’s post added.
Liberty Park Press reached out to Carlson to learn the source of Inslee’s non-violent felonies list, but he did not immediately respond.
Still, the Michael Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety lobbying group is blasting the notion that gun stores are considered “essential businesses” by the Trump administration. The gun prohibition group has a new email asking recipients to sign a national petition demanding that the administration reverse the decision and designate gun stores as “non-essential.”
Williams, the Florida murder suspect, evidently had no trouble getting his hands on a gun overnight, but law-abiding Sunshine State residents must wait before they can acquire a new handgun. One retailer in Florida related how some of his first-time customers were surprised they could not buy a gun and just take it home. Gun control laws don’t work that way.
But now Slate is suggesting that prisoners with violent records also be released. The article declares, “But how dangerous is it to release prisoners with violent records? We recently carried out an empirical study using post-release crime data on hundreds of thousands of such prisoners. We found that it is much less dangerous than you probably think. And during this pandemic, we can add, it seems doubtless much less dangerous than keeping them behind bars.
“Our study,” the article added, “found that among those released after serving a sentence for a violent crime, about one of every 10 releasees was sent back to prison for any new crime within the next three years.”
Has anyone ever done an “empirical study” of law-abiding citizens who buy firearms, to determine how many of them ever commit a crime that lands them in jail? Gun buyers—that is, citizens exercising a constitutionally-protected fundamental right—are essentially treated like criminals when they try to purchase a firearm. Background checks, waiting periods and now back in Virginia, one-handgun-per-month has been restored to arguably treat honest citizens worse than criminals.
Everytown contends “The fact is that firearms won’t make people safer in the face of this pandemic.” Likewise, the “fact is” that closing gun stores will not provide the antidote to this pandemic, either.