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Ray Haynes


A police officer in Lancaster was executed this last week. By all accounts, he helped his community in many different ways, not only by keeping it safe for 29 years, but also for helping it on a volunteer level in a number of community events. His family and his community lost a great man. He was about a year away from retiring, and he was killed in cold blood. It didn’t have to happen.

According to the information made public thus far, this police officer’s killer was an evil man. Leave aside the fact that, after having been stopped during a burglary, the criminal was able to shoot the officer, that criminal didn’t just leave to escape. The criminal stood over the cop and put four more bullets into the officer, execution style. It was a heinous killing, not just because of the victim, but also because of the cold blooded and evil methods used to “finish off” the officer. It didn’t have to happen.

According to the press and police reports, the killer had been outside the law since he reached adulthood. He had been to state prison twice, violated his parole six times, and yet he remained free. He was let go and listed as a “moderate risk” to the community. This killing wasn’t just a failure of those who oversaw the killer’s behavior, and screwed it up royally, it was a failure of the liberal lie that incarceration doesn’t help society. This killer belonged in jail or prison, and but for Jerry Brown’s prison policy and the weakening of the career criminal laws in this state, the killer would have been in prison or jail, and he wouldn’t have been in an apartment complex in Lancaster to meet and execute this police officer.

In 1994, when this state passed three strikes, I had a role in its passage. The three strikes law I helped pass said if you commit two serious or violent felonies, you could be sentenced to life for any felony you commit the third time. The rationale was simple, if you couldn’t conform your behavior to social norms, you should not walk free among us. Rehabilitation was not the goal, punishment was not the goal, even offering a place where the bad guy could do penance (i.e., a penitentiary) was not the goal, safety was. Government cannot rehabilitate, doesn’t punish, and cannot force penance on, bad guys, and to pretend that it can is a fantasy (probably generated by the chemicals ingested by liberals in their youth). Three strikes was never about engaging in that fantasy, it was always about preventing crimes like the ones that occurred this last week, by putting the unrepentant criminals in a place where they cannot commit crimes against law abiding citizens for an extended period of time. The killer who executed this police officer was exactly the type of person that three strikes was intended to incarcerate. A couple of years ago, with the help of some of those in law enforcement, the “any felony” provision was changed to require that the third felony also be serious or violent, so before a person could be committed to prison for life, some other innocent person had to be a victim of a serious or violent felony.

Shame of those who advocated that change. If three strikes hadn’t changed, if it had been enforced, if someone on the prosecution side of the criminal justice system had spent one minute working to figure out how to put the bad guy who killed the cop in jail or prison, the police officer was still be living.

There is plenty of blame to pass around here. First, from the moment three strikes passed, prosecutors complained. District Attorneys around the state were so afraid of plea bargaining a potential evil person to freedom (then having that evil person commit a heinous crime) that they prosecuted every three strikes case as a three strikes case. The result—the crime rates dropped 50 percent in 2 years, the first time that had happened in 40 years of liberal incarceration policies. After the three strikes change a couple of years ago, the left, who runs the Democrat party in Sacramento, then moved to reduce the number of felonies under which someone could be charged, so that there would be fewer felonies to catch the bad guys and incarcerate them for life. Then the Democrats in Sacramento refused to build prisons, causing overcrowding, resulting in policies that let the bad guys go, and led to a system that called truly evil people a “moderate” risk to the community.

So, now a police officer was executed by a truly evil criminal. This officer’s family was deprived of a father, his community of one of its most valuable members. The man who executed this officer should have been in prison for life, and wasn’t, because of these misguided liberal policies. And, if this state gets rid of its death penalty in this election, he won’t even be executed for this horrible crime. The officer’s death can be laid at the feet of the liberal politicians in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and the bad policies they have put in effect since they completely gutted three strikes. This crime, this execution, didn’t have to happen.