Trump-supported early prison release law draws blood

In 2005, a judge sentenced gang member Joel Francisco to life in prison for trafficking in crack cocaine.  It was the harshest sentence ever handed down in Rhode Island for a drug crime.

Fourteen years later, in February, 2019, Francisco was released from prison as a beneficiary of the First Step Act.

The bipartisan reform bill was signed into law in late 2018, with groups from both sides of the aisle supporting its passage as they assured the public that only nonviolent, low-level offenders would be considered for early release.  According to the Marshall Project, the most immediate impact of the bill would be to retroactively reduce the sentences of prisoners convicted of crack cocaine offenses before 2010.

Predictably, less than two weeks after Trump signed the First Step Act into law, the notorious crack-dealer asked the court for a sentencing reduction, citing the legislation.

Francisco had completed several rehabilitation programs while in prison and wrote a letter to the court assuring officials he had separated himself from his old gang members and wished to dedicate his life to his wife and kids upon release from prison.

On Feb. 5, Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. approved Francisco's early release agreed to by the federal prosecutor and public 

Cmdr. Thomas Verdi, the deputy chief of the Providence Police Department, who was familiar with Francisco, warned federal officials that the "crown prince of the Almighty Latin Kings" gang, as he was dubbed by authorities, had a "propensity for violence."  The FBI has identified the Latin Kings as one of the largest street gangs in the country. 

At the news of  his release, Verdi expressed his doubts about Francisco's rehabilitation.  He was right.

Last Wednesday, Francisco, 41, stabbed 46-year old Troy Pine to death.

A few months before he murdered Pine, he was charged with breaking into an ex-girlfriend's residence.  Both crimes occurred while he was on supervisory probation.  A warrant has been issued for Francisco's arrest, and as of this writing, he has not been apprehended.

Rather presciently, two weeks before Francisco murdered Pine, Politico reported that a few of President Trump's allies were concerned about the "dire consequences" of the First Step Act: "You let people out of jail early, commute sentences, something bad happens because of this effort [and] it's going to be one more egg on their face — or even worse, blood on their hands," said a former Senate Republican staffer.

What was left out of the discussion, and subsequent media coverage, of the May 2018 forum and White House conference on prison reform were the voices of the victims and their families.  The kumbaya gathering of bleeding hearts bemoaning the plight of criminals, many with long rap sheets, forgot to consider the public safety of law-abiding Americans.

Jared Kushner, who spearheaded the effort to get the bill through Congress; Ivanka Trump; Van Jones; and Candace Owens attended the event, along with members of both Houses.  Their compassion and angst for criminals were palpable.  President Trump talked about "second, third and I don't know, I guess even fourth chances" for offenders.  The myriad innocent lives destroyed by "nonviolent" drug-dealers and prison-hardened felons failed to make the roster of relevant topics.

Troy Pine's grieving nephew sent a message to the fugitive Francisco: "You stole a father, a brother, an uncle, a best friend, a loyal, faithful individual.  You stole him from us."  Pine's family might also want to send a message to those in both parties who cleared the way for a violent gang member to secure an early release and kill their loved one.

According to Politico, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continues to oversee the implementation of the law.  Last night, Polk County, Florida sheriff Grady Judd appeared on Tucker Carlson's show, claiming that Republicans and Democrats, eager to score political points, twisted arms to pass the First Step Act.  Judd called out Jared Kushner as "the one who masterminded and pushed this legislation through."  Judd then suggested that Trump did not know that violent felons would be released.  If he had known, said Judd, he would not have signed the bill.

In 2005, a judge sentenced gang member Joel Francisco to life in prison for trafficking in crack cocaine.  It was the harshest sentence ever handed down in Rhode Island for a drug crime.

Fourteen years later, in February, 2019, Francisco was released from prison as a beneficiary of the First Step Act.

The bipartisan reform bill was signed into law in late 2018, with groups from both sides of the aisle supporting its passage as they assured the public that only nonviolent, low-level offenders would be considered for early release.  According to the Marshall Project, the most immediate impact of the bill would be to retroactively reduce the sentences of prisoners convicted of crack cocaine offenses before 2010.

Predictably, less than two weeks after Trump signed the First Step Act into law, the notorious crack-dealer asked the court for a sentencing reduction, citing the legislation.

Francisco had completed several rehabilitation programs while in prison and wrote a letter to the court assuring officials he had separated himself from his old gang members and wished to dedicate his life to his wife and kids upon release from prison.

On Feb. 5, Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. approved Francisco's early release agreed to by the federal prosecutor and public 

Cmdr. Thomas Verdi, the deputy chief of the Providence Police Department, who was familiar with Francisco, warned federal officials that the "crown prince of the Almighty Latin Kings" gang, as he was dubbed by authorities, had a "propensity for violence."  The FBI has identified the Latin Kings as one of the largest street gangs in the country. 

At the news of  his release, Verdi expressed his doubts about Francisco's rehabilitation.  He was right.

Last Wednesday, Francisco, 41, stabbed 46-year old Troy Pine to death.

A few months before he murdered Pine, he was charged with breaking into an ex-girlfriend's residence.  Both crimes occurred while he was on supervisory probation.  A warrant has been issued for Francisco's arrest, and as of this writing, he has not been apprehended.

Rather presciently, two weeks before Francisco murdered Pine, Politico reported that a few of President Trump's allies were concerned about the "dire consequences" of the First Step Act: "You let people out of jail early, commute sentences, something bad happens because of this effort [and] it's going to be one more egg on their face — or even worse, blood on their hands," said a former Senate Republican staffer.

What was left out of the discussion, and subsequent media coverage, of the May 2018 forum and White House conference on prison reform were the voices of the victims and their families.  The kumbaya gathering of bleeding hearts bemoaning the plight of criminals, many with long rap sheets, forgot to consider the public safety of law-abiding Americans.

Jared Kushner, who spearheaded the effort to get the bill through Congress; Ivanka Trump; Van Jones; and Candace Owens attended the event, along with members of both Houses.  Their compassion and angst for criminals were palpable.  President Trump talked about "second, third and I don't know, I guess even fourth chances" for offenders.  The myriad innocent lives destroyed by "nonviolent" drug-dealers and prison-hardened felons failed to make the roster of relevant topics.

Troy Pine's grieving nephew sent a message to the fugitive Francisco: "You stole a father, a brother, an uncle, a best friend, a loyal, faithful individual.  You stole him from us."  Pine's family might also want to send a message to those in both parties who cleared the way for a violent gang member to secure an early release and kill their loved one.

According to Politico, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continues to oversee the implementation of the law.  Last night, Polk County, Florida sheriff Grady Judd appeared on Tucker Carlson's show, claiming that Republicans and Democrats, eager to score political points, twisted arms to pass the First Step Act.  Judd called out Jared Kushner as "the one who masterminded and pushed this legislation through."  Judd then suggested that Trump did not know that violent felons would be released.  If he had known, said Judd, he would not have signed the bill.