This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
In 2007, gross misjudgments in a distant state allowed a one-man crime wave – Daniel Tavares Jr. – to move to Washington and murder a young Graham couple. A series of blunders in Massachusetts had set him free to pursue his criminal career in Pierce County.
Now it looks as if history may have repeated itself with Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old fugitive charged with gunning down four Lakewood police officers on Sunday.
Like Tavares in Massachusetts, Clemmons – still at large as of this writing – was returned to the streets in Arkansas despite ample evidence that he remained a grave threat to society. In both cases, the law-and-order people made rookie errors.
In Massachusetts, prosecutors failed to provide a judge with crucial information about Tavares’ criminal background, and the judge released him without bail – not knowing he’d killed his mother, had a record of violence as long as the prison yard, and was even then facing felony charges for assaulting guards.
Clemmons’ history with the justice system is still unfolding. But one thing is clear already: Had the folks in Arkansas been paying attention, he’d still be doing hard time down there, not fleeing police up here in the aftermath of a horrifying crime.
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