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Criminals belong in jail.

If our fellow librals found it hard to say anything bad about good guys like the unions, they were equally disinclined to say anything good about the bad guys. And for most liberals in 1969, the police, who were using clubs to break up antiwar demonstrations, were vet?, definitely bad guys. It was as hard to get constructive criticism of law enforcement as it was of the military, which was of course considered to be composed entirely of war criminals. But we believed that such real crimes as murder and robbery did require effective police and tough law enforcement. Liberals of that time, however, seemed to have little concern for the victim and almost limitless faith in the criminal's potential for rehabilitation. This was accompanied by an automatic assumption that it was heresy to question the Warren Court's interpretation of constitutional provisions protecting rights of the accused. While we were to make clear that we shared few of these conventional liberal positions, we did understand that law enforcement had to be criticized when it was done brutally or to harrass and intimidate the innocent, as it was aginst blacks in the South.

This piece appeared in 1976.

I read a remarkable story in The Post about a girl named Sally Ann Morris who had been shot in Georgetown:

"She and her boyfriend, Henry Miller, were walking down 33rd Street, heading for an M Street restaurant. . .when two men approached. As they passed the couple, one of the men pulled out a gun, cocked it, and stuck it in Sally Morris's back.

"Instinctively, Miller grabbed her and they started to run. After a few steps, she said, she heard gunfire and felt a slap at her back. 'It felt like a burning needle that went through me real quick. It sort of numbed me '''. .The bullet ripped through her intestinal tract and lodged in her lower abdomen . . . .Doctors had to perform a colostomy, rerouting the undamaged intestinal tract to a substitute opening in her lower abdomen. This type of operation allows body waste to be passed into a disposable plastic bag attached to the new opening.'"

And this unbelievable para"Compounding all this is the fear that the ordeal is not yet over and that her assailants may return to kill her. Four suspects arrested in the case, who were released on personal recognizance pending trial, promptly disappeared and are at large today."

What was going on here?

"I don't know the details of the case," said Lee Cross, an assistant U.S. attorney, when I mentioned Sally Ann Morris. "But here's the main point. The judge may not set financial conditions on release merely to ensure the safety of the community. He may only do that if the prosecutor shows likelihood of flight by the accused."

"Merely" to ensure the safety of the community? That seemed odd, I thought.

"To hold them, you have to use preventive detention," Lee Cross went on"and you will recall the screaming that went on among liberals when that was passed by Congress."

I hadn't realized that "preventive detention" meant holding suspects charged with such crimes as murder and rape prior to trial.

As many as 1,000 cases in D.C. are dropped each year because of witness intimidation.

I went to the Bench Warrant section and requested to see the 'Jacket" on cases 48406 and 48407, for James A. Weeks and Roy Wade Weeks, the male suspects in the Sally Ann Morris case. Roy Weeks was listed as living on 10th Street, N W , and as having resided there "for three months, with girl friend.'" James Weeks had been living on A Street, S. E.,"for one month," Eunice Walker, an alleged accomplice, was listed as living on A Street, S.E., fo "three weeks." Police were still searching for Roy and James Weeks, as well as Eunice Walker.

A good deal of damage had been done by the "liberal" rhetoric of the previous decade. The liberal usually spoke as the reasonable man who merely opposed unfairness and inequality. As a result, whoever called for harsher treatment of violent offenders was often subtly painted as a racist; whoever called for less lenient judges was viewed as a primitive lacking in higher education; whoever demanded longer sentences was, surely, insensitive to the social roots of crime; whoever argued that prisons were primarily for punishment and only secondarily "correctional facilities," as they are often today officially dubbed, was surely an anachronism from the Stone Age; whoever urged that suspects charged with violent crimes be locked up before trial was alleged to hold the Constitution in low esteem, if indeed he had ever heard of it.

There is something very wrong with a society in which, in the name of the presumption of innocence, the suspect is freed and the witness must then be protected; in which a girl who has been shot in the back must hide from her attackers because the suspects were freed after being caught; in which convicted armed robbers roam the streets after they have been sentenced; in which the concept of punishment has been almost entirely discredited.
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Title Annotation:Crime
Author:Bethell, Tom
Publication:Washington Monthly
Date:Feb 1, 1989
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