A 19-year old on probation for sex acts with a 13-year-old managed to violate the terms of his probation dozens of times over the past couple of years with little-to-no consequences, even when he was arrested and charged with other violent crimes. Now Bryant Wallace is accused of taking part in a drive-by shooting in rural Johnson County; allegedly firing shots into an occupied RV and narrowly missing the person inside.
Probation officials have tried to explain their soft approach to Wallace’s repeated violations of his probation agreement, but I don’t find their excuses to be all that persuasive.
Drew Konicek, who is the division manager within the Department of Correctional Services for the 6th District – the state agency overseeing probation and parole for Linn and Johnson County, said in an email there is no number of violations that will result in a recommendation to revoke a client’s probation. However, he said the agency considers both the volume and severity of the violations along with the circumstances to protect the individual and the community.
“There was evidence to suggest that Mr. Wallace had protective factors in place and our goal is to work with clients to build off those areas of stability,” Konicke said. “Revoking a teenager to prison is guaranteed to diminish, if not completely eliminate, those protective factors.”
Any evidence that those “protective factors” were in place should have disappeared after the first, say, half-dozen probation violations. And while Wallace was eventually ordered to spend 90 days in jail, it took far too long for that to happen.
Most of Wallace’s violations occurred from August 2021 to July 2022, which were mostly related to issues around his location, missing sexual abuse treatment programs and the battery on the GPS around his ankle to die.
An official with the Department of Correctional Services for the 6th District said Wallace was arrested in July 2022 for not following the terms of his probation but was released on bond.
About two months later, court documents show Wallace was charged with robbery, theft and assault. Prosecutors said Wallace along with another man assaulted a man and then took his shoes, cell phone, a pink vape pen and two ounces of marijuana. Then, Wallace was arrested again after his GPS monitor placed him at the location of a shots fired call in November 2022.
Court documents show he served 90 days in jail after his arrest in November for violating probation.
That’s right. Even after being arrested and charged with robbery and assault Wallace’s probation wasn’t revoked. Only after his GPS monitor showed him at the scene of yet another crime in November 2022 did authorities move to hold him in jail for a few months, but they still kept his probationary status intact.
Wallace’s other probation violations weren’t really minor infractions either. He pled guilty to charges related to sex acts with a 13-year-old, yet he was repeatedly allowed to skip out on his court-mandated treatment. He was supposed to be monitored at all times, yet when his GPS device died there was little concern from the part of probation officials.
I’m all in favor of second chances, especially when an individual has demonstrated they’re willing to work to improve their circumstances, but 50 second chances is utterly ridiculous, especially since young Mr. Wallace doesn’t appear to have put in much effort to stay on the straight and narrow path. Sadly, almost every time he strayed the probation department turned a blind eye or excused away his infractions, and honestly this pattern may very well continue in the future.
Anti-gun advocates would undoubtably prefer to blame Wallace’s actions on Iowa’s status as a constitutional carry state or voters’ decision to enshrine the right to keep and bear arms in the state constitution, but those protections have no bearing whatsoever on his ability to shrug off the terms of his probation on dozens of occasions over the past couple of years. Ultimately it’s Wallace himself who’s responsible for his actions, just as the state of Iowa is responsible for its inaction when Wallace failed to live up to the terms of his plea deal. Iowa doesn’t need any more gun control laws, but sounds like its probation system is in serious need of an overhaul.