One constant is a lack of space to house these dangers to society. Jails tend to fill up and governments have a hard time keeping pace with the demand - particularly when they're buying $40 MILLION buildings or theaters for the profitably challenged... but we digress.
Programs like the Community Custody Program were created to relieve the pressure on jails by putting these predators back in society - supposedly with careful monitoring and close supervision. To date judges have been setting the who and how of the CCP with input from jail officials.
One consequence of the county's CCP program was the recent release of a violent criminal Jamie Alderete. Records indicate that Alderete had been arrested no less than 32 times since 1990. Despite his violent history, Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch decided that the best place for Alderete to be was back in society, back with a plentiful supply of victims.
On Tuesday, Alderete was charged with beating his pregnant girlfriend while wearing his ankle bracelet. According to a criminal complaint, the victim told officers that Alderete began punching her head, then rammed his knee into her stomach and punched her in the back.As you can tell, Mr. Alderete is a real gem and from the Journal's description of his criminal history his actions are hardly surprising. What's troubling is that Judge Murdoch despite previous run-ins with the criminal felt compelled to send him back out into society to continue his criminal career.
Alderete said he was going to make the victim lose her baby. She is two months pregnant, according to the complaint.
Conditions of Alderete's custody allowed him to be outside his home between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to attend school, MDC spokeswoman Heather Lough said.
Now the Legislature wants to stick their collective noses into the issue. It seems that some folks are upset about Judges releasing criminals like Alderete over their objections, so in their less than infinite wisdom they would like to transfer the decision making process over programs like the CCP from judges to jail officials.
Twin bills being discussed in state House and Senate committees would give jail administrators, rather than judges, final say in determining who gets placed on CCP.Like the argument over punishment or rehabilitation the argument over who chooses which criminals to release back into society misses the point. Prisons weren't created to punish or rehabilitate, they were created with the express purpose of keeping criminals away from the rest of us. Sure, taking away someone's freedom could be considered punishment and that punishment might cause some to rehabilitate, but those side benefits are nothing when compared to the very real benefit of protecting the general public from dangerous predators.
Jail director Ron Torres has said that the collaboration between the judges and jailers "always seems to be on thin ice," because some judges have reservations about the program, while others order it over the jail's objections.
Look, the problem is the program. We don't doubt that we have an overcrowding problem and if the program has to exist, we'd prefer a judge be calling the shots not some unelected bureaucrat. However, programs like the CCP put the concerns of prisons before the safety of people. Violent offenders like Alderete have no business being allowed access to general society. It's time to realize that the best place for them and for us is not in the community, but rather behind bars.