Halloween in a quiet Marin community got interrupted by a one man crime spree:
The Marin incident began about 6 p.m. Tuesday, when a suspect was driving a white Honda Civic behind Corte Madera resident Mary Wall as she headed toward her home in Madrone Canyon. A young man sprang from the Honda, approached Wall’s dark blue 1999 Cadillac Seville, demanded money and forced her from the vehicle.
The suspect jumped into the Cadillac and sped away.
After stealing Wall’s Cadillac, the suspect collided with a silver 1993 Volvo at Magnolia and Baltimore avenues in Larkspur and kept going. A short time later, at the intersection of Corte Madera and Redwood avenues, the Cadillac collided with three other cars. Two people reported minor injuries but did not need treatment. A short time later, a resident in the 400 block of Corte Madera Avenue reported someone attempted to break into a Nissan Sentra. About five minutes later, a home alarm sounded at a residence in the 500 block of Corte Madera Avenue, where a burglary was reported.
Police swarmed the area, but the suspect apparently stole a Subaru Forester and headed southbound on Highway 101. Murillo was arrested at 8:40 p.m. in downtown San Francisco.
Aside from being an almost epic story of badness — and an unusually scary one considering the number of kids out on the darkened streets that night — it also impressed me because, in a world without parole, Murillo, a gang member, would have been in jail, rather than on the rampage:
A 21-year-old Hayward parolee authorities blame for mayhem on Larkspur and Corte Madera streets Halloween night was charged Thursday on 10 felony counts. Antonio De Jesus Murillo was arrested in San Francisco on Tuesday night after he went on what police said was a one-man crime spree that included carjacking, three hit-and-run crashes, a residential burglary and two auto thefts.
Murillo appeared briefly in Marin Superior Court for arraignment. He was due back in court today to enter a plea.
Court records indicate he was convicted of felony auto theft in San Mateo County in December 2005. Police believe he is active in the Norte o gang in San Francisco.
Parole has always been a conceptual problem for me. I understand the stated principle, which is to aid prison guards by giving prisoners an incentive to behave well while in prison. The carrot for staying out of trouble is a shorter prison stay. Without that carrot, parole proponents claim, there’s no incentive for prisoners to behave even moderately well during their stay. The only deterrence to bad prison behavior would be punishment.
Of course, one could do something a bit different, which would be to give incentives that operate solely within the prison. One could give prisoners a monetary incentive for good behavior, for example. The money could be put into an account that would be made available upon the prisoner’s release. There could also be more pleasant work details, a better class of cells or cell mates, etc.
My off-the-top-of-my-head ideas, though, are meaningless, because they run headlong into the real engine driving parole, which is the States’ desperate need to get people out of prison. In California, at least, there simply isn’t space to house all the bad guys for all that they actually do, and for the full terms of their pleas and convictions. This is the same reason plea bargaining is so popular. Building more jails is the real answer, and that’s not going to happen any time soon.
UPDATE: Thanks, Earl, for reminding me that parole has an “e” at the end. In my day to day work, I often refer to a legal doctrine called the parol evidence rule, and I managed to get the two confused in my mind. My bad!