In his play Measure for Measure, one of Shakespeare’s characters observes:

“We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.”

In today’s national society and our state we have increasing crime and lawlessness. Repeat offenders are arrested and quickly released to go out and commit more crimes.  There is a troubling escalation of Juviniles committing serious felonies without sanctions. The theft of cars is rampid as is the use of stolen cars to drive into business locations to loot. Organized shopliffing has become a serious issue for stores without fear of arrest or penalty. The take over by gangs in Hati of the government is the ultimate outcome of the failure to enforce laws. As Shakespeare expresses it, we “make a scarecrow of the law” until birds of prey “make it their perch and not their terror.” The most recent example is the undocumented  immigrant who killed a Washington State Patrol trooper while driving under the influence. He had a least four run-ins with the law since illegally entering this country. They include driving with a suspended license, drug possession, failing to appear in court over a domestic violence assault and a history of vehicular incidents involving speeding. After killing the trooper he was finally not released one more time, but jailed with a million dollar bond requirement. We read and see on television news repeated stories of arrests and prompt release of people accused of crime as well as the failure to arrest people committing crime.

It is true that a “one size fits all” approach to this problem, like the “three stikes” punishment laws are not the answer. Nor is increasing the penalty the answer in most cases. The problem begins with a sufficient number of police and law enforcement members to ensure crimes are solved and people arrested. While monitoring law enforcement is important, the “defund the police” idea encourages crime. We need to pay adequate salaries to members of law enforcement and facilitate the ability to train candidates. We need to change the practice of the judicial system in which the arrest and relese of people committing crime on a repetitive basis has become common. Yes, drug abuse and mental issues as well as homelessness are an underlying cause of much of crime, but the fundamental reason is the failure to enforce the law. Whether it involves shoplifiting  or murder, the failure to enforce the law by prompt arrest and punishment only encourages more crime and lawlessness.

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