Another Philadelphia Police Officer, John Pawlowski, has been murdered in the line of duty, and, once again, the killer is a career criminal who was treated leniently by the criminal justice system, and, in the words of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, “should not have been among us, period.”


Ramsey calls suspect “cold-blooded killer”

By Barbara Boyer and Michael Matza, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writers

The suspect in Friday night’s murder of a Philadelphia patrolman is an “unsalvageable” career criminal who “should not have been among us, period,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said today.

“This guy was just a cold-blooded killer who made a statement prior that if police showed up, he was going to kill them,” Ramsey said. “That was his mind-set, and that was his intent.”

Simmering with anger over the death of 25-year-old Officer John Pawlowski – the eighth officer to die from on-duty injuries in less than three years – Ramsey was accompanied at a midafternoon news conference by Homicide Division Capt. James Clark.

Clark identified the suspect as Rasheed Scrugs, 33, of West Philadelphia, whose decade-long rap sheet includes several aliases and multiple arrests for theft, robbery and gun crimes. Scrugs was wounded by police after Pawlowski was shot, and was in critical condition last night.

When Ramsey was asked at the news conference about the injuries to Scrugs, pain and sadness clearly overwhelmed his usual discretion and decorum.

“He wasn’t hit enough. That’s the only thing that matters,” he said. “I don’t care.”

Mr Scruggs had been through the criminal justice system:

Born in 1975, Scrugs was first arrested as an adult for shoplifting at 18. Those charges were withdrawn. Over the next three years, he was arrested several times on counts of robbery, receiving stolen property, assault and gun crimes. Many of those charges were dismissed or withdrawn by prosecutors in apparent plea bargains. The most serious charges were held for trial.

In June 1997, he pleaded guilty to robbery and carrying a fire arm without a license. Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer sentenced him to a minimum of five years and a maximum 10 years in prison.

He served five years and was paroled. In 2002, he violated parole and was sent back to prison in 2004 for six months months. He was released again in 2005.

It does not appear he was on probation when he was arrested in September on charges of car theft and receiving stolen property.

His next court date on those charges is Wednesday.

Emphasis mine.

Crime was reduced significantly in New York City when former Mayor Rudolf Guiliani instituted a program where minor offenses were not just ignored, where the police and prosecutors aggressively pursued charges for minor offenses, trying to get the bad guys off the streets before they they became really bad guys; the City of Brotherly love somehow never saw the wisdom of that.

One of the things that got to me was a column by Annette John-Hall in today’s Inquirer. Mrs John-Hall goes through the same old rigamarole of saying that we shuld not give up on the community:

Sure, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and write off a whole generation of young men on their way to becoming Rasheed Scrugses. As a seething Ramsey declared Saturday at a news conference: “Lock them up, throw away the key. Build another prison. Don’t let them out.”

But somewhere along the way, we have to step in. Because there’s a fine line between the path Rasheed Scrugs took and the path Charles Gibbs is taking.

The Charles Gibbs about whom Mrs John-Hall wrote is an admirable fellow, a law student, intent on doing good things. Mrs John-Hall noted that Mr Gibbs was the beneficiary of having some caring adults around him, from the single mother who reared his sister and him, and scraped up the money to send them to Catholic school, the “block captains,” and the police officers of the 18th District.

But Mrs John-Hall failed to note something else: as there were good people who helped rear Mr Gibbs properly, there were in-community enablers who allowed Mr Scruggs to live and prey in their heighborhood.

It’s clear that the criminal justice system in Philadelphia is a criminal enabler, because it does not take things seriously until they become very serious. We read about thugs who should have been off the street being on the street only when they do something really newsworthy, which, in Philadelphia, has meant killing a police officer. The system enables the petty thugs the freedom to graduate into the big time.

But there are other enablers. The people who live around the thugs, the people who befriend them, who tolerate their behavior, the people who know that their neighbors are bad guys dealing in crack and robbing cabbies and do nothing and say nothing, the people who wear the “Stop Snitchin'” t-shirts and the parents who give them the money to buy them, the people who see the goons as role models and the, let me be very blunt here, women who sleep with them, these people enable the thugs to remain thugs.

These are the people Mrs John-Hall needs to see, needs to tell us about. Instead, she wrote about Mr Gibbs, apparently a fine young man, but someone who is being made a hero simply for doing the right thing. Too often, it seems that doing the right thing is the exception rather than the expectation.

And that told us more about the problem than Mrs John-Hall ever realized.

Another terrible decision by a rotten judge — and a six-year-old pays the price

Although I do not support the death penalty, sometimes it gets difficult to argue against in specific cases.  From ALa of Blonde Sagacity:

“…A convicted sex offender pleaded guilty Monday to raping a 6-year-old boy at a Massachusetts public library last year while he was on probation.

Corey Deen Saunders, 27, entered the plea Monday to child rape and related charges. He was arrested Jan. 30, 2008, after luring the boy to the magazine stacks in the New Bedford library while the child’s mother worked on a computer just a few feet away.

At a court hearing last year, prosecutors played a videotaped interview in which the boy told a child welfare official the assault was like being attacked by a “T-rex and an alligator.”

At the time, Saunders was on probation after serving four years in prison for the attempted rape of a 7-year-old boy.

Saunders had been released in 2006 despite objections from prosecutors, who are allowed under state law to ask that sex offenders be locked up indefinitely after completing their prison terms. Three psychologists supported the commitment request, but the judge granted him probation, citing his lack of sexual crimes while in prison.” (source)

I hope this case has caught Bill O’Reilly’s attention and that this judge is made to take accountability for this disastrous decision!

Now, it should be remembered that, in this case, there was an alternative: the “judge” could have had Mr Saunders retained in custody.  More, everyone connected with the case was recommending that Mr Saunders not be released, because he constituted a danger to children.  But — and it took me quite a while searching via Google to find this “judge’s” name — Bristol County Superior Court Associate Justice Richard T. Moses decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to keep Mr Saunders in custody.  Yet Mr Saunders, who had been sexually abused as a child and was developmentally disabled, was a ward of the state and had been through all sorts of trouble in state homes. including sexually-related trouble.  Reading through his record, anyone could have seen that this man was a danger to children and a danger to society.

And who is paying the price for Justice Richard T Moses’ lack of judgement?  A six-year-old boy is paying the price, his mother, who thought he’d be safe in the children’s books section of the library is paying the price, the rest of the family is paying the price.

ALa would like to see Justice Moses held accountable for his decision, but, of course, in the United States we cannot legally punish judges when the result of a bad decision turns out like this.  But we can take appropriate private action against him: we can publicize his name, we can tell people what he has done, we can hound him and hound him and hound him until he resigns his position, changes his name and moves out to where no one knows him.

Maybe once something like that has happened to some of these ridiculously, criminally sympathetic judges, the rest will get the message, and not take decisions like this anymore.

Mandatory terms really are a solution

I expect left-of-center editorial positions from The Philadelphia Inquirer, but they aren’t usually too bad when it comes to public safety. But one in this morning’s Inquirer is enough, in Glenn Beck’s formulation, to make your head explode:

Parole in Pennsylvania: Mandatory terms are not a solution¹


Gov. Rendell wants to keep repeat violent offenders behind bars longer to fix the state’s parole system. But that’s an old answer to a deeply rooted problem that demands a new approach that actually works.

Works? When the editors say that we need a new approach that actually works, the obvious — and unanswered — question is: works to do what?

If the goal is rehabilitation, it’s clear that no, prison doesn’t work all that well. But if the goal is to keep dangerous criminals off the streets and reduce the danger to law-abiding members of our society, then prison absolutely works, and the longer the thugs are locked up, the better it works.

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