In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, prisons across the nations are releasing inmates for the fear that these criminals might contract the virus. Needless to say, the majority of us, especially women and mothers, understand on an instinctive level why this move is unspeakably bad. We’re not heartless if we fear for our safety and well-being, for as Adam Smith stated, “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”
States all over the country have been releasing murderers and sex offenders, and many are getting re-arrested almost immediately after their release. You’re not a heartless monster if you think that this is simply unacceptable. The whole point of a government is to protect innocent people in society. Yet the state governments that are releasing dangerous criminals back into the community are putting everyone, especially the most vulnerable of us, at risk, for the sake of showing “mercy to the guilty.”
Convicted Criminals Are Imprisoned Because They Have Hurt the Innocent
Convicted criminals are justly imprisoned in order to remove them from the community. It’s important to remember that criminals are sent to prison because they previously harmed and hurt somebody else. The worst of these criminals are the ones who have caused irreversible damage. For example, murderers who took away the life of an innocent person or rapists who brutally violated the body of their victims against their will.
Criminals, especially violent criminals, have to be forcefully removed from society. Otherwise, a society cannot function.
There is no place for dangerous people like these in civil society. Criminals, especially violent criminals, have to be forcefully removed from society. Otherwise, a society cannot function if these criminals are allowed to continually terrorize the innocent. One of the sex offenders recently released during the coronavirus crisis, Rudy William Grajeda Magdaleno, 39, was rearrested a mere four days later for committing another sex offense.
According to CBS local news, Magdaleno’s criminal history includes breaking into a home and exposing himself to an 11-year-old girl, going into a law office and sexually harassing a woman working there, and attacking a disabled person at a restaurant. This is not how a civilized human acts. People like Magdaleno act like animals that will violently assault the most vulnerable of us in society. He preys on the weak, the mentally disabled, and children because criminals like him choose to harm the most helpless of us in society.
Criminals Don’t Have the Same Rights as Free and Innocent Men
Advocates for the release of prisoners argue wrongly that these inmates should be released from prison because they’re entitled to the same rights as civilians in society, and should thus be protected from the coronavirus too. For example, Nicholas Straley, a lawyer who represents prisoners’ rights argues that “We can all hold out in our homes. We can decide who we allow into our homes. People in prison do not have that option.”
A convicted criminal who has broken the law by violating someone else’s rights thus forfeits their own right to be treated equally as an innocent person in a civilized society.
Why, yes, Mr. Straley. That is the point of imprisonment. A convicted criminal who has broken the law by violating someone else’s rights thus forfeits their own right to be treated equally as an innocent person in a civilized society. These criminals no longer share the same rights as innocent and free men. If an unfortunate act of God were to occur, like a pandemic, it still would not change the circumstance that these criminals are in. Their punishment still stands regardless of what happens in the world outside of prison.
Your Rights as a Free Individual in a Functioning Society
As a free individual, it’s not unreasonable for you to expect your government to protect your rights. In America, where the Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by John Locke’s explanation of rights, it’s the obligation of the government to protect these inalienable rights.
According to Locke, there are three natural rights:
Life: Everyone is entitled to live.
Liberty: Everyone is entitled to do anything they want to, so long as it doesn't conflict with the first right.
Property: Everyone is entitled to own all they can create or gain through gift or trade, so long as it doesn't conflict with the first two rights.
Let's look at the matter of liberty (everyone is entitled to do anything they want to, so long as it doesn't conflict with someone else’s right to life). When applied to the matter of sex offenders, what this means is that a woman or a child should be able to take a hike in a park without the fear of being preyed upon by violent criminals. A woman is entitled to not be attacked by another person while she’s hiking. Children are entitled to not be kidnapped or molested while they play. It’s the function of the government to protect these rights.
Releasing prisoners with a history of crime into the community takes away the rights of the innocent.
Releasing prisoners with a history of crime into the community takes away the rights of the innocent. You can't exercise your rights as a free citizen in a civilized society if you have to constantly look over your shoulder for fear of aggression by criminals.
A criminal’s reign of terror will prevent the public from performing the activities they’re entitled to in a free society. This is the reason why, once captured and convicted, criminals are then summarily removed from society. Irresponsibly releasing criminals from incarceration because of the coronavirus crisis not only puts a community’s safety in jeopardy, but it also takes away the rights of the innocent person to live freely in a functional society.
Don’t allow anyone to shame you into thinking you’re cruel or heartless for wanting to keep dangerous felons and sex offenders in prison and away from your community. Remember that criminals are thrown into prison because they’ve caused unjust pain and suffering to innocent victims. This coronavirus crisis isn’t an excuse for society to forgo imparting justice to their victims.