A Eustis man on parole for a murder he committed in Texas attacked and robbed two elderly men Thursday and Friday before deputies caught him using one of his victim's credit cards at a Wal-Mart, authorities said.To understand why such a person gets paroled requires a little background. After all, Texas' Board of Pardons and Parole is notoriously "tough." They established a set of guidelines for how many inmates should be receiving parole each year then for the most part have refused to follow them, denying parole every year to thousands of eligible inmates.
Glen Semento, 47, was charged with aggravated battery, robbery and fraudulent use of a credit card. He was being held without bond in the Lake County Jail. Sheriff's Capt. Todd Luce said it will be up to Texas to determine how to punish Semento for violating the conditions of his parole. ...
Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said Semento was convicted of first-degree murder in 1987 and was sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled in August 2006 and moved to Lake County. The Florida Department of Corrections agreed to supervise Semento's parole because he said he wanted to live with his parents and he had a job lined up, department spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff said.
According to the Texas appellate court opinion that upheld his conviction, Semento was convicted of murdering William Lappine in March 1986. Lappine died of strangulation, but he was also bludgeoned on the head and had defensive wounds on his hands and arms.
Investigators found that Semento had pawned Lappine's television and stereo. They also found a fingerprint and partial palm print that matched Semento's in Lappine's apartment. There was no evidence that Lappine and Semento knew each other.
But ironically, for reasons I've never understood, Texas' parole board is MORE likely to follow its guidelines for the most violent offenders - like this guy - than for the lowest risk inmates. The Sunset Commission staff report evaluating them in 2006 found that (see here, page 29-30), "By not reflecting the guidelines, parole panel decisions may actually be skewed in favor of higher offense severity and higher-risk offenders." By contrast, for the lowest risk offenders, parole rates "have consistently fallen well below even the minimum rates that the guidelines would provide"
Translated from bureaucratese, that means the most dangerous offenders are more likely to be paroled when they're eligible than those who pose less risk.
There's only one reason that's happening: The prison system needs the space to house addicts, drunks, and non-violent offenders like this guy, and this one, and this schoolteacher, and homeless people who steal copper wire, and a host of others who didn't commit nearly as serious an offense as this fellow. They're locked up and he's out carjacking people. What's wrong with this picture?
A past campaign client of mine, former state Rep. Ray Allen, likes to say that Texas should only lock up people we're "afraid of," not those whom we're only "mad at." This case shows that's not just a catchy slogan, it's damn good public safety advice.