As a people, there are few things we view as being as heinous as sexual crimes. We can at least relate to assault, murder, even robbery to some extent. Not always, of course, but many of us have heard of a case and thought, “Yeah, I’d have killed the bastard too,” for example. We might even understand why someone might rob another in order to feed their family, even if we don’t condone such an act in any way.
With sexual crimes, though, we don’t. We just can’t understand it. More importantly, we shouldn’t understand it.
Those accused of sexual crimes are people to handle with extreme caution. After all, do you want to let them out into the world to potentially strike again?
That’s what one California mayor is saying after a judge released such a person.
The mayor of Livermore has publicly blasted a judge’s decision to release a suspected “violent sexual predator” into his city out of concern he could get COVID-19 inside Santa Rita Jail.
In a letter sent to the governor, a presiding judge and two local legislators this weekend, Mayor John Marchand said Judge Thomas Reardon “apparently is more concerned about the safety of a suspected rapist than the safety of our community. His priorities are poorly aligned.
“Judge Reardon has shown that we can no longer rely upon judges to keep us safe,” he added in the letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Alameda County Presiding Judge Tara M. Desautels, state Sen. Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan.
The accused, Gregory Vien, is accused of sexually assaulting two women back in 1997.
Of course, there’s no telling how many more people were sexually assaulted that just weren’t linked to this particular case. I doubt someone commits two sexual assaults in a single year, then suddenly reforms, after all.
If, indeed, Vien is the person responsible for those crimes, then the judge did precisely what Mayor Marchand said he did, he released a dangerous predator out into the world. The 61-year-old Vien may well be susceptible to COVID-19, but the entire community could be susceptible to Vein’s heinous evil.
And that’s the flip side that needs to be discussed. Vien is only accused of these crimes. He hasn’t been convicted, after all, and our system is predicated on treating people like they’re innocent until we prove them to be guilty. It would be nice to believe that’s what drove Judge Reardon’s decision, but I can’t.
After all, this is the West Coast. This is the same part of the nation that almost released the Green River Killer.
I get why people are releasing prisoners. A virus like COVID-19 will sweep through a prison like a hot knife through butter. Releasing people who may be susceptible to complications related to the virus makes sense.
However, it doesn’t seem that officials are weighing those risks against the risks of releasing people like this back into the community. Instead, they’re applying blanket applications and then pretend to be shocked when someone they released does something awful. They’re just stunned when they shouldn’t be.
Protecting inmates shouldn’t come at the expense of protecting the community.