Most of the stories we’ve seen thus far about “empty the jails” recidivism have come out of our larger urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles. But even some of the smaller cities have been getting in on the action. Today’s story took place in Greeley, Colorado, a city of roughly 100,000 people located to the north of Denver. It sounds as if 18-year-old Nathanial Neisler is getting off to a fine start in his adult life, since he managed to get himself arrested and taken to the Weld County Jail this week. But given the nature of his crime and the ongoing concerns over the pandemic, Neisler was quickly assigned a court date and released.
That’s when the young man demonstrated what could be interpreted as a serious case of poor judgment. Rather than departing the area quickly to celebrate his newly-won freedom, Neisler decided to go over to the facility’s motor pool and break into a car to steal some money. Within moments he was back in the jail, this time to be held without bond.
A Highlands Ranch teenager was booked in to the Weld County Jail less than an hour after he was released from the same facility. Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said Nathanial Neisler, 18, was arrested 45 minutes after his initial release from jail on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespass of a vehicle.
According to a release from Reams, Neisler broke in to a vehicle at the Weld County Motor Pool and stole $2.08 from inside. He allegedly told responding officers he stole the money to use on a pay phone.
To be clear, this is more of an example of the criminals doing dumb things genre than any real threat to society. Neisler wasn’t originally in court for any sort of violent crime. He was arrested for driving more than forty miles per hour over the speed limit. Yes, that’s dangerous and unsafe, but it’s not exactly up there with armed robbery. Even the second crime wasn’t one that was going to make the five o’clock news. He stole a grand total of two dollars and eight cents from the county vehicle he broke into.
But with all of that said, this case is only one of many examples we’ve seen of people being immediately released from jail only to rapidly head out and commit additional crimes. (The act of breaking into the vehicle was more serious than the petty nature of the amount of change the kid stole.) Frankly, I’m kind of surprised they decided to hold him over for criminal trespass of a vehicle unless he’s got more of a rap sheet than is mentioned in the report.
If nothing else, Mr. Neisler serves as a reminder of the many other cases we’ve seen since the pandemic began being used as an excuse to “empty the jails,” most of them far more serious. There was the high risk-sex offender in California who was turned loose, only to almost immediately begin exposing himself to women at his parole office. A convicted rapist in New York City was released early and lasted barely a week before sexually assaulting and attempting to rape another woman. And then there was the Florida man who was serving time on drug and weapons charges before being released early, only to be arrested for murder the next day.
As has been pointed out repeatedly, elected officials in many of these cities had been pushing to decrease prison and jail populations long before the novel coronavirus showed up. And in some cases, such as the Florida case I just mentioned above, the jail had registered no positive cases of COVID-19 and was not overcrowded. The pandemic is being used as an excuse to advance a criminal justice “reform” agenda even faster than it might have happened otherwise.
But the reality is that we have prisons and jails for a reason. Believing that there are too many people locked up shouldn’t empower you to endanger everyone else because of your personal agenda.