Second, Third, and Fourth Chances—at What Price?

Murderers will continue to slip through our fingers if deincarceration proponents have their way.

Last November, a deranged 26-year-old man, Devin Patrick Kelley, opened fire on worshipers inside a church in Sutherland, Texas, killing 26. High-casualty mass shootings are tragic in human terms but anomalous statistically, at least in terms of the portion of total U.S. homicides that they represent. The vast majority of murders, which take place disproportionately in America’s low-income and minority neighborhoods, don’t get nearly the same attention. The Texas church shooting does have an important point of commonality with the majority of American murders, however: its perpetrator had a troubling criminal record. The deincarceration movement, which would return thousands of convicts to American streets, presents a threat to public safety. Repeat offenders already commit a substantial portion of the nation’s violent crime—according to one study, 53 percent of killers have at least one prior felony conviction. They will be walking the streets in greater numbers if deincarceration advocates have their way.

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