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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Coronavirus Crisis: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

     A national crisis, like the one right now, exposes the good among us and those who are not so good. Some of the good people rise to the occasion and do what they can to make things better for their communities. Most try to do no harm. The worst among us look for ways to exploit the crisis for personal benefit.

     Examples of this are everywhere. Unscrupulous retailers gouge their customers; con artists use the crisis to swindle the gullible out of their savings; politicians use the crisis to fund their special interests, and some cases, line their pockets; bureaucrats take the opportunity to expand their influence and power; and race-baiters try to use the crisis to inflame division among racial and ethnic groups.

     A handful of fanatical "social justice" advocates and their bureaucratic handmaidens in several states, counties, and cities, have successfully used the coronavirus pandemic to prematurely release jail inmates. For example, in Los Angeles County, since February 2020, 5,000 inmates have been released from the county's jails. Some of these former inmates were violent criminals.

     In April 2020, Los Angeles County corrections officials noticed a one-week spike in coronavirus cases within a single module at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, California. Out of 50 inmates in that module, 21 had tested positive for the virus.

     The sudden jump in coronavirus cases in that one jail unit prompted jail officials to review surveillance video footage of that cluster of inmates. What these corrections officials uncovered caused Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to call what he saw "disturbing."

     The North County Facility surveillance footage, released on Monday, May 11, 2020, showed inmates drinking from the same bottle of hot water and taking turns breathing through the same face mask. The inmates were obviously trying to catch the infection in order to get themselves out of jail.

     Under the current circumstances, it should not be surprising that Los Angeles County jail inmates would try to game the system by making themselves and others sick. Like politicians, power-hungry bureaucrats, unscrupulous retailers, and scam artists, these inmates were simply taking advantage of a crisis for personal gain. Policy makers responsible for the COVID-19 early release program should have predicted that inmates would pull stunts like this.

     Instead of making things better, these criminal justice sob-sisters, for their own ideological interests, have made things worse for everyone else.

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