In Chicago, one man gives a whole new meaning to revolving door justice

Andre Burnett, a Chicago resident, just got arrested for the 78th time.  That is not a typo.  This is a man who's probably spent more time in Chicago courtrooms than many regular employees have.  He is yet another symptom of a completely broken justice system.

In pre-modern England, property crimes were treated with the same level of seriousness as crimes against the person.  Over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, British criminal law created around 220 crimes justifying the death penalty.  Murder and treason, of course, were obvious death-penalty crimes, but so were spending a month with the gypsies, poaching, pickpocketing, shoplifting, stealing farm animals, and ordinary theft.

As a practical matter, many of those sentenced to death for property crimes weren't actually executed.  Instead, sentences were commuted entirely for various reasons (pardons, pregnancy, military duty), or, quite commonly, the condemned people were shipped out of England.  In the very early years of England's colonization of North America, criminals might find themselves shipped across the Atlantic.  In later years, Australia became the penal colony of choice.

In large part because of Evangelical Christianity, by the early 19th century, Britain began to reform her excessively punitive laws for property crimes.  By 1832, thieves would no longer be hanged, and in 1837, forging wills and powers of attorney also stopped being a hanging offense.  By 1861, there were no property crimes that carried a capital penalty.

In America, the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment served, for the most part, to limit the death penalty to convictions for first-degree murder.  (Lynchings, including the rough justice in the Wild West, don't count in this reckoning because they occurred outside the judicial system.)

I believe that an ordered, prosperous society protects people's private property.  Without that promise of protection, people either stop working to acquire property, which drags down the economy, or vigilante "justice" becomes the norm.  Vigilantes will freely kill those they believe committed property crimes.  The rule of law, after all, protects not only honest citizens, but criminals as well.

However, I strongly agree with the American tradition that does not impose the death penalty for property crimes.  Prison time should be a sufficient deterrent.  But what happens when even imprisonment isn't brought to bear against someone guilty of property crimes?

In that case, you end up with 56-year-old Andre Burnett:

Image: Andre Burnett.  Chicago P.D. mug shot.

On Sunday, prosecutors charged Burnett with shoplifting from a Magnificent Mile department store. It was his 78th arrest.

"You're a nuisance to the system, Mr. Burnett," Judge Mary Marubio told the 56-year-old. "And a drain on the system."

Police arrested Burnett on New Year's Day at Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 North Michigan. Prosecutors said he took a $1,250 jacket from a display, put it on, and walked out the door. He was also carrying a so-called "booster bag," which is a bag wrapped in aluminum foil that's designed to defeat the store's security measures, according to prosecutors.

He's charged with felony retail theft. Prosecutors said most of his 12 felony convictions are also for theft and retail theft.

The public defender asked that, because Burnett's crime was not violent, he be released without paying a cash bond.  Judge Marubio rejected that request and, instead, set bail at $1,500 and required Burnett to post 10% of that to walk free.  However, the system in Chicago is set up so that, for each day in jail, Burnett will earn a $30 credit.  Thus, after five days at Hotel Jail, Burnett again walks out of the courthouse.

It's true that Burnett apparently has never committed a violent crime against a person or property.  He steals things.  However, in the aggregate, he is damaging society.  He makes products more expensive, he reduces trust between citizens, and he burns up criminal justice resources.  For a functional society, there should be a penalty for that.  I would argue that, after 78 arrests that resulted in 12 felony convictions, Burnett should be looking at an extended vacation in Club Jail.

But the justice system in Democrat-run communities isn't concerned with justice.  For those working in the system, high crime promises full employment for them and their children, and maybe their grandchildren, too.  For Democrat politicians, going soft on crime allows virtue signaling about social justice and equity.  And for ordinary citizens...well, they elected these people.

If you want to see how insanely out of control crime is in Democrat-run Chicago, I highly recommend CWB Chicago.  You'll read headline after headline about people with long criminal records who are out on the streets continuing to commit violent, often deadly, crimes.

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