When we talk about crime and punishment, there are a lot of possible controversies to discuss. But there is one fact that should never be forgotten. The judicial system has been put in place to deliver the right kind of punishment to those who break the law, based on their crimes. The sentence should be harsh enough that the subject learns their lesson but not so severe as to be cruel. However, this in and of itself holds quite a gray area. Mercy and grace should be given but only in so much that they are deserved or will be learned from.
Too much mercy only creates more problems, and in the case of Seattle, many more crimes.
The city of Seattle, Washington, is no stranger to large homeless populations. And like in other large cities, these homeless often resort to crime and misconduct. Some out of desperation, others due to the overabundance of mental health issues.
For a first-time offense, and in particular, a non-violent one, leniency is often given in the hopes that the offender will learn from their mistakes and understand that things could have been much worse for them. Should they be arrested again, especially for the same or similar crime, they are often considered a repeat offender, and heavier sentences are given out.
However, Seattle must believe in hundreds of second chances because many of their homeless have been arrested as many as 72 times in one such case.
In February, a report was released by Seattle business leaders that showed that the city’s 100 most prolific offenders had taken part in over 3,500 separate criminal cases. And that is just the ones they were caught in. City officials are sure many others have not been reported. It is noted that of these 100 individuals, all of them are homeless and have past drug addiction problems.
But apparently it doesn’t matter how many times you get caught in Seattle; the city is still going to let you walk.
And a new report only confirms this. On Wednesday, KOMO News released a report conducted during the last nine months since the original account was made public. It cites that 90 of those Seattle’s most prolific 100, have been all been arrested again, and some more than once.
The report says, “New figures from the DSA (Downtown Seattle Association) show that 90 offenders have been booked into jail 264 times within nine months, including one woman with nine bookings alone…”
The report does not indicate what crimes they committed; however, information tells us one was an assault on a toddler.
Francisco Calderon, a homeless man and one whose name is on the list of 100, was arrested late last year for punching a complete stranger in the mouth. He pleaded guilty to the crime, making it his 72nd crime conviction. City Attorney Pete Holmes said that Calderon should receive probation and drug treatment. However, as such a prolific repeat offender, Judge Ed Mckenna gave him a rather harsh sentence, 364 days in jail, saying that he didn’t think the court was “willing to risk having someone else assaulted.”
And true to the judge’s assumption, it wasn’t long after Calderon was released that he assaulted another, this time a toddler.
According to the report, “Francisco Calderon, a homeless man, entered multiple businesses along the 500 block of Pine Street, causing disturbances and trying to start fights. He’s done this before.”
“Calderon grabbed a cup of coffee from a random passer-by and threw it in the face of a random toddler. The child’s father struck Calderon roughly six times, knocking him to the ground when police arrived. He was arrested for assault 3 of a child.”
The report goes on to say that while the child was no doubt upset by the attack, he did not appear “physically injured or burned.” He was, however, “not communicative and appeared to be staring off into space, possibly in shock.”
The report stated that the child was born in 2017. He was two. Two years old and already a victim of a ruthless attack by someone who should have learned his lesson a long time ago.
Of course, not all homeless crimes are violent. Many, while still creating victims, are cases of theft. However, that doesn’t mean that they should go unpunished. If Seattle hopes to have much of a population besides the homeless in the future, they are going to have to make some significant changes.