Boston mayor: COVID-19 inmate releases contributing to increased violence
Mayor Martin Walsh's comments came hours after a fatal shooting marked the fourth homicide in a week
By Lisa Kashinsky
BOSTON — Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is criticizing the early release of inmates during the coronavirus pandemic for contributing to the city’s recent spate of violence — his comments coming hours after a fatal Jamaica Plain shooting marked the fourth homicide in a week.
“In some cases I’m assuming it’s desperation for folks. But we also, the commissioner has said this a few times, releasing some of the folks that have been released out of prison, some of them haven’t had the proper time in jail to be rehabilitated if you will — and they do rehabilitate folks,” Walsh said in an interview Friday on WGBH. “I think that has a lot to do with what’s going on in the street and I’m taking the word from the commissioner.”
Judges, citing health concerns, have been granting more requests for release during the pandemic — a move backed by some progressive activists and politicians.
But Boston Police Commissioner William Gross at recent crime scenes has repeatedly called out judges by saying that releasing violent prisoners sets a bad tone on city streets and is in a way responsible for some of the recent violence.
Walsh said his concern with broad releases “was that we were going to let some people out that aren’t good people, and that were going to cause harm to other people. And I think that’s some of what we’re seeing.”
Walsh called releasing prisoners due to severe medical issues “one type of early release that I think we can wrap our arms around.”
But “arbitrarily not holding people when they go in front of the court” — particularly with gun charges — is a different story.
“We can’t expect somebody who has a gun charge that gets released that all of a sudden they’re going to come out and become a model citizen,” Walsh said.
Walsh spoke some 12 hours after a shooting on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain Thursday night left one person dead and another with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Three people were arrested after a struggle in which the suspects attempted to flee — one of them tried to trip an officer — while also trying to toss their handguns.
Clifford Jones, 43, of Randolph, was charged with three counts each of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of a large-capacity feeding device and resisting arrest. Rushon Hemingway, 23, of Springfield, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and resisting arrest. Tyron Blair-Battiste, 37, of Jamaica Plain, was charged with interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.
A fourth person, Uhmari Bufford, 25, of Jamaica Plain, was charged with interfering with a police officer and disturbing the peace after he grew hostile with officers while demanding access to the crime scene, police said.
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