Wednesday, April 29, 2020
True criminals—those who deliberately violated penal statutes—are being freed from jails and prisons in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, who will turn 78 on May 27 and is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, remains incarcerated in a federal facility in Texas.
President Trump should grant him a commutation of his sentence.
Baca, a man who dedicated his life to service in law enforcement, was convicted of crimes based on doing what he thought was right and which he believed he had the authority to do: protect the jails under his supervision from intrusion by federal agents. The FBI smuggled a cellphone into a jail and gave it to an inmate who was an informant—though such possession is a misdemeanor—and accomplished that by bribing a deputy sheriff; Baca had the informant shifted from jail to jail to keep him out of the reach of federal agents.
For that, he was convicted of obstruction of justice. He was also found to have lied to the FBI in an interview—but without jurors being informed of the disease which impairs his memory.
Baca should not have been prosecuted. He should not have been convicted. The three-year sentence he received at the hands of a malicious judge was an outrage.
We regret that the president did not pardon him.
Now, this model citizen—who was a luminary in the field of law enforcement and who has been incarcerated for nearly three months based on the feds’ spite—should be allowed to go home to his wife, rather than continuing to be exposed at an advanced age to possible contagion.
The refusal of the sentencing judge, Percy Anderson of the Central District of California, to order his release based on the pandemic was heartless, though in character.
If not placed by prison officials on home detention, the president should act.
Copyright 2020, Metropolitan News Company