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Release Reform

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There may be a tradeoff between the shredding of the constitutional rights of inmates at the county jail and the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to be protected from potential predatory criminals ("You Can Now Stay In Jail Until Dawn," May 8). Prisoners released in the middle of the night may commit grand theft auto as their only means of transportation to wherever they wish to travel. So, while ostensibly protecting the constitutional rights of Gary Bullock by releasing him from jail, the constitutional right-to-life of Father Eric Freed was violated with impunity. We have a new policy where decisions to be released or not are to be set by jail inmates themselves. How about that?

It may also be argued that the middle-of-the-night release of Bullock violated Bullock's constitutional right to be protected on the grounds that he posed a danger both to himself and to others. It might well have been the case that jail officials sought to teach Bullock a lesson by kicking him out of a warm jail into freezing outside temperatures. But it was the jail officials on the scene, not Bullock, who needed to find a lesson here. How many more midnight murders must be committed before common sense prevails on jail release policy?

Perhaps the county grand jury should conduct an independent investigation of this whole sorry episode in order to hold those officials to account for the terrible mistakes in judgment inherent in Bullock's release. There is ample statutory and case law that provides for holding jail inmates for up to 48 hours in exigent circumstances. Section 825 of the California Penal Code and Riverside County Superior Court vs McLaughlin is the case in point.

John H. Grobey, Arcata


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