Crime victims are not the priority for offenders. Of that we can be certain, or those who seek to harm others would not do so. Clearly, “the priority” of the justice system is supposed to be “justice.” Without question, such demands that the system follow the law and respect the Constitutional rights of all those who are accused of crimes. However, can a justice system be truly “just” if victims are not at least “a priority.”
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On August 6th, Fox 59 in Indianapolis, Indiana reported on the release of a violent offender on bond. Of note, the bond was posted by an offender’s rights support group receiving taxpayer-funded grant money. The grant program is supposed to foster violence prevention. What the offender is alleged to have done, while on bond, raises a key question. Does using tax dollars to support a group, whose mission includes bonding out violent offenders, reflect a system that prioritizes the concerns of victims?
An Indianapolis Case Study
Fox 59‘s Courtey Crown reported on the circumstances of Marcus Garvin’s release from custody in January, following his arrest on charges of stabbing a gas station employee in December 2020. In that incident, Garvin was accused of using a deadly weapon to stab the victim because he “was in the bathroom too long.”
The attack in December is just the beginning of the story. While on bond – we will get back to how Garvin came to be on bond – Garvin is accused of the July 2021 murder of his girlfriend, Christie Holt. Garvin reportedly had a long history of domestic abuse of Holt. Holt’s family reported that she feared that Garvin would kill her one day. The system was warned that a long-time victim was in continued danger. Yet, Holt was murdered, dismembered and wrapped in a hotel sheet for a week, before being dumped in a wooded area. While on bond, Garvin had cut off his court-ordered GPS ankle monitoring bracelet, which was apparently ineffective in providing safety for others. It does not seem that Christie Holt was a priority for the justice system in Indianapolis.
Crown’s reporting found that the court had lowered Garvin’s bond from the gas station stabbing incident from $30,000 to just $1,500. Then the public defender’s office contacted the Indianapolis Bail Project to post the $1,500. With the reduced bond met, and a court order for the “monitoring” of an ankle bracelet, Garvin was released from custody. According to Fox 59, under the Indianapolis Violent Crime Prevention Grants Program, between September 2019 and December 2020, the city’s taxpayers have provided $150,000 in funding to help operate the Bail Project. Left unexplained is how helping to bond out accused offenders qualifies as “violent crime prevention.”
Examples from New York
In the article “New York, New York: A Different Tune,” Thomas Lemmer delved into two issues from New York that were in the news in March 2021. Both are additional examples of a system that does not have crime victims as a priority. The first news item dealt with how the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County, New York gathered community input for their joint police reform plan. While their plan’s community input efforts did not include outreach to crime victims, they did include the input of a man convicted of murdering execution style, New York City Police Officer Robert Walsh in 1981. The second news item covered the brutal attack of an elderly woman, as she was walking to church on March 29, 2021, the Monday of Holy Week – in broad daylight – in Manhattan. Her attacker was subsequently identified as Brandon Elliot, a man convicted of stabbing his own mother to death in 2002. Elliot had been released from prison in November 2019 with a lifetime parole status. Secure 1776 encourages you to read the full article, which had been published in the May 2021 issue of the FOP Journal.
Victims Are at the Center of the Police Mission
Across the country, police officers respond to the calls from crime victims everyday. Working to lessen the risks of becoming a victim, coming to the aid of victims, and seeking justice for victims are at the very center of the police mission. Even as the debate has raged over “police reform,” the police continue to serve victims. Can the same still be said of the rest of the system? How about among those in the nation’s city halls, state legislatures and executive mansions?
We are interested in your thoughts, and invite you to comment below.
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