UNITED STATES─The coronavirus pandemic has changed lives in ways that one cannot imagine. The safety of America has become a top priority. However, a question that has concerned me for months is rather the pandemic should be an excuse for criminals to get out of jail early? It is not a question that you can easily answer, if anything it has raised plenty of debate.

How so? Plenty of those locked away have contracted the virus and died as a result. I know I might get some hate for this column, but I’m going to be honest. It’s the government’s job to ensure even prisoners are safe behind bars, so if precautions weren’t taken to ensure the prisoners health that is worrisome. At the same time, hearing about all these politicians advocating for criminals to be released because of a pandemic is great issue for me.

Why? Who gets to decide what criminals and what criminal offenses are not considered a threat to society? I mean if someone has been found guilty of a crime that we know for a FACT they committed the crime they should do the time. I mean crimes like murder, attempted murder, robbery, assault, aggravated assault, larceny, theft, burglary, rape, sexual assault, child abuse, child molestation, fraud, the list goes on and on, they all have an impact. Who gets to determine which crime is to a lesser degree is threatening, therefore, the criminal gets the opportunity to get a jail out of free card because of a crisis?

How do we know they will not commit another crime? Have they learned their lesson while behind bars? We don’t know that, and it’s scary. I cannot tell you how many news stories I have read or heard about in recent weeks about people who were released early from prison because of COVID-19, with the impression they were not a threat to a society, but it becomes a reality they are indeed still a threat. Hearing a person with a long criminal history shoot and kill three people after an argument is beyond upsetting. Just think of it, if that person was not released those three people who were killed would still be alive.

Then this week, I hear about a horrible story about twin toddlers, I actually cannot call them toddlers, because the twins were only 1 year-old. The mother’s boyfriend, who is not the father of the children, beat both kids so badly one of the twins died. The other is still in the hospital fighting for his life. When I first heard this story, my stomach sank, my heart was beating uncontrollably. It sickened me to the core to hear something like this. What type of human being would have the evil inside them to beat a 1 year-old?

Someone who is helpless and unable to defend themselves; just hearing about this haunted me and ruined my entire day. I could not help, but think about this innocent child being tortured. It is so sad, so disturbing, my heart goes out to this kids’ family and I’m praying with every fiber in my body that his twin brother survives this unspeakable ordeal. What is so disturbing is to learn that the culprit was released from prison because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He had been jailed for child abuse, and if he had still been locked up this innocent baby would still be here; he would not have suffered unspeakable acts of horror.

We should not play God with people’s lives and by allowing some prisoners to get out of jail early because of a pandemic, not knowing what their intentions are is beyond dangerous, it’s unacceptable. Just letting people out because we assume they are not a ‘threat’ shakes me to the core. You are playing with fire by releasing criminals back into society before they have fully served their time. Crisis or not, a crime is a crime. If you did not commit the crime, you would not be behind bars.

Written By Zoe Mitchell