The tragic story of Eliza Fletcher, the beloved mother, wife, and teacher, who was kidnapped and murdered last week in Memphis has played out in national news. Now, we are learning more about the alleged perpetrator, and specifically, his lengthy criminal history. In 2000, at just sixteen years of age, he kidnapped a prominent Memphis attorney and was later convicted of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. He received a 24-year sentence (of which he served 20 years in prison).
Prior to that, as just a teenager, he had been charged with theft, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, and rape. Yet, this man was allowed to roam the streets again to murder an innocent woman, leave two young children without a mother, and destroy a family, begging the question, yet again – what about the innocent’s fair chance at a happy life? When will we start considering that question more than how many chances someone with a violent past receives?
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Once again, the tragic effects of recidivism result in the worst of circumstances. The courts and legislatures around our country need to balance the importance of reintegration after incarceration with the safety of their communities. Like most issues, it is a complex topic, but the stakes are too high not to work together for a better solution.
Image by Mark Weber|Daily Memphian