Take the latest Springfield case, where a known violent criminal with a rap sheet going back decades was freed on a GPS device and put on house arrest. Stewart Weldon reportedly cut his bracelet, and now they’re digging up bodies “in and around” Weldon’s house. A woman with him when he was arrested alleges he kidnapped her and over the course of a month in captivity, beat and raped her repeatedly.
Clearly the system blew it by cutting this thug loose, rightfully angering many including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who said, “Stewart R. Weldon is another ‘choir boy’ let go by our judicial system. When will some of our judges realize that ‘animals’ like this have no respect for life, our courts, or GPS devices.”
Then there’s the Wayne W. Chapman case, in which two forensic psychologists recommended a serial child rapist be sprung from prison. Is that all it takes these days for perverts who prey on children to be set free? Just hire a couple of psych doctors to write a “get out of jail free” recommendation? Yes, Chapman served his prison time technically, but to claim he no longer poses a public threat — knowing his sickening history — is playing Russian roulette with Bay State kids.
And if all that doesn’t sound the alarm over at the state Legislature loud enough, there’s Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Q. Feeley, who released on low bail — over prosecutors’ objections — a firearms suspect who is now accused of murdering a Maine cop in cold blood.
Feeley gave probation to an admitted heroin dealer, calling it an “economic crime,” despite the fact Massachusetts is facing a massive drug crisis.
“We’ve had 40 overdoses and seven fatalities this year,” said Salem police Capt. Conrad Prosniewski. “Like everywhere else, it’s at an epidemic level. … This was not just some poor guy feeding his family.”
The state Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker need to act.
Thankfully in the case of Chapman, Baker is filing legislation to strengthen sentencing, but more needs to be done to address the overarching problem that our judicial system is too soft on violent criminals, making our communities less safe.
Lawmakers need to remember it’s their No. 1 job to keep their citizens safe. A failure to do so could become a political liability given Republican politicians especially are elected to safeguard two key functions: fiscal responsibility and law and order.
Voters expect and deserve both.