Indirect connections; Madness is taking control
Richard Krupp, PhD
On October 5, 2012 a retired school teacher living in the northern California town Hercules, was brutally stabbed to death during a robbery committed by a southern California county jail escapee Darnell Washington and his wife Tania. What strange attractors pulled these disparate people together?
According to LA Weekly Blogs, Darnell Washington’s apparent Face book page lists him as a graduate of Crenshaw High School in South L.A. and a former film student at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga.
He also lists his favorite movie as Takers — a “high-stakes action thriller” about a team of experienced bank robbers, starring hip-hop hit makers T.I. and Chris Brown. More from the film's online synopsis, which reads like a glorified version of the L.A. County Sheriff's press release:
“After pulling off a spectacular series of brilliantly planned bank robberies, a notorious team of professional criminals attempts one last heist, a once-in-a-lifetime job with a $25 million payoff. And all that stands in their way is a cop hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to solve the case and bring the TAKERS down.”
On the other hand family of the victim, Susie Ko, mother of four and exemplary person had this to say:
“Thank you, Kings County PD, Hercules PD, and the FBI for doing what you do best. Our farewell to our mother would not have been the same, had we not received a great amount of closure from finding the car and having suspects in custody. Please pray for those cases unsolved, for those families still suffering, for the continued bravery of our law enforcement, and that all murderers out there will be brought to justice. Take care and God Bless.”
As it turns out Washington had escaped from a county jail facility designed to handle low-risk inmates. According to the San Bernardino Sun:
“Several clandestine calls using his cellmate's phone privileges helped an inmate and his wife plot his daring daylight escape from the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center. To increase the chances of a successful escape, Darnell Washington also arranged for his wife, Tania, to park outside the jail fence line and be a lookout.
Court documents show that the 24-year-old West Covina man told his wife to give him the all clear when she believed it was safe for him to run to the fence and scale it. The two were talking on the phone when Washington was waiting in the jail yard.”
This was not the first escape from that facility. In fact two other inmates escaped less than 90 days prior to this August 27th escape. Sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said that the county is at the beginning of making changes in security at the Devore jail. “The fence is currently 10 feet high,” she said. “We are discussing stretching that another four feet.”
It is doubtful the additional four feet of fencing will deter escapes. It might be wiser to build lethal electrified fences around facilities not designed to deal with higher risk inmates. Lethal fencing will actually stop potential escapees; not just slow them down.
After escaping from jail, a crime spree including multiple car-jackings, the shooting of a sheriff’s deputy and the murder of Mrs. Ko — Washington and his wife were arrested in Seattle after ramming police patrol cars with the 2011 Subaru Outback stolen from Ko's garage. Darnell Washington was subdued by a deputy with a Taser. He was identified with the help of a tattoo of a cross accompanied by the phrase, “by any means,” authorities said.
Is it possible that Washington was in the jail facility designed for low-risk inmates because the county had moved inmates normally sent to prison to the jail facilities for higher-risk inmates? Is there a direct or indirect connection to realignment? I believe there is.
In a Sacramento Bee article on October 22, 2012, Data unclear on prison reform, “Criminal justice experts say that understanding the law’s effects will take more time and more information than a few headline-grabbing cases can provide.” According to criminologist Joan Petersila,” Whether or not realignment works depends on where you are looking.” I guess studying criminal justice performance is one way of looking at crimes while being a victim provides a “lesser” point of view?
In an editorial, Realignment doesn’t lead to early release, Fresno Chief Probation Officer, Linda Penner and Joan Petersilia indicate, “Most importantly, for decades too many people coming out of our prisons were no better off, than they were when they went in.”
Some kind of madness has started to evolve. The ignorant and arrogant so-called “criminal justice experts,” most of whom have not even worked in a prison or around criminals, have it all backwards. The purpose of prison is to provide punishment for crimes committed; not to improve the education and health of criminals. Bill Berryhill, a member of the California Assembly seems to be guided by common sense, “Clearly, what’s happening with (Realignment) is that criminals learn there are no consequences.”
We jumped into the fog of realignment and didn’t land upright. Republican legislators have called for a special session to change or kill the realignment law. This will be difficult. It is unlikely that accurate data will be provided by the Department of Corrections and just as unlikely the “criminal justice experts” will provide an unbiased assessment. Governor Brown who in the past appointed Rose Bird1 as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is even less likely to cooperate.
Realignment is reminiscent of efforts in the late 1960’s to move the mentally ill out of mental hospitals under the Lanterman, Petris, Short Act. The goals included improving public safety and providing treatment. However current efforts are under way to change that law. The Los Angeles Times indicates a task force has found that, “Tens of thousands of mentally ill people wind up each year in California jails and prisons, cycle in and out of overburdened hospital emergency rooms or die on the streets.”
The snake oil salesman who sold the realignment bill of goods for the governor has now snuck out the back door of the Department of Corrections. The counties are left holding the bag and upstanding members of the community like Mrs. Ko are the real victims.
The realignment madness is swallowing us whole.