Normally, when we find ourselves discussing the “empty the jails” initiative we’re talking about New York City but such poor decisions aren’t limited to the Big Apple. California has been getting in on the act also. A recent example comes to us from Santa Ana, where seven inmates described as “high-risk sex offenders” were cut loose early in April to supposedly reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus behind bars. One of them, Rudy William Grajeda Magdaleno, was barely halfway through his current sentence for convictions on a variety of charges, but he didn’t waste much time before putting his newly won freedom to bad use by exposing himself to some women… at his parole office. (ABC News)

A high-risk registered sex offender was arrested Thursday for allegedly exposing himself at a parole resource center, just two weeks after a controversial early release from the Orange County Jail.

Seven inmates who were deemed high-risk sex offenders were released early in April by a court commissioner, triggering criticism and warnings from county law enforcement officials who said the release was not necessary because the jails were not overcrowded.

One of them was Rudy William Grajeda Magdaleno, who was released April 13 after serving 71 days in jail on a 180-day minimum sentence. Officials say he has an extensive criminal history including convictions for robbery, narcotics possession, criminal threats and child annoyance.

It’s true that Magdaleno had some nonviolent (or at least not as violent) charges on his lengthy rap sheet including robbery and drug possession. But that wasn’t his real claim to fame. He’d previously been convicted of sexual assault on a mentally disabled person. He’d also been caught breaking into a home while “naked from the waist down” and trying to get into the bedroom of an 11-year-old girl. Oh, and he once showed up at a law office, sat down on the floor, and began masturbating while staring at one of the women who worked there.

And this is one of the people that the state decided to turn loose to keep everyone safer during the pandemic.

The Santa Ana Chief of Police was understandably outraged, demanding to know why a reprobate like Magdaleno had been set free. The Orange County Sheriff also chimed in, saying that his jail was nowhere near capacity and they have plenty of room to keep all the inmates isolated from each other. So how did this happen?

It happened because there are too many people in positions of power who are willing to prioritize their “criminal just reform” agenda over the safety of the public. And this pandemic is providing them with the ideal opportunity to never let a perfectly good crisis go to waste. You can blame almost anything on the novel coronavirus these days and seemingly get away with it. In this case, the same people who wanted to empty the jails before we’d ever heard of COVID-19 are using the disease as a rationale to empty the jails.

I suppose we can count ourselves lucky that all Magdaleno did this time was take his clothes off at his parole officer’s office. The last rapist to be freed in New York City wound up sexually assaulting another woman before he’d been back out on the streets for a week.