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Are our criminal courts criminally insane?     

COLUMBIA, Mo 9/12/13 (Op Ed) --  If the ongoing saga of Malcolm Desean Redmon is any guide, Columbia's crime problem may never be solved.

Arrested and charged with felony assault last week, Redmon has occupied the top tier of Columbia's most wanted criminals several times, mainly for doing the one thing that gets the most public attention:  firing a gun in a crowd.
"He's well-known to our police department," Columbia police Sgt. Ken Hammond told the Columbia Tribune  in 2008.  "When Redmon's in town, it's not surprising that there's a shooting or crime involved because he's a criminal."

Redmon is in town all the time, racking up arrests, charges, plea deals, and convictions like a pinball machine -- and making the best case ever for the hopelessness of Columbia's fight against crime.   The courts bend over backward to set him free, from paying for public defenders to entertaining requests to lower his bail (all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court) to suspending most of his sentences.  

Over the last 13 years, since he was just 17, Boone County judges have handed Redmon dozens of probations, suspended 30-, 60-, and 120-day jail sentences, and 11 years worth of suspended prison sentences.  

Many of these punishment-avoidance plans get revoked after Redmon re-offends.   But neither Redmon, 30, nor the Courts ever learn. 

Over a shooting at Boone Tavern last year during which "20 to 25 shots were fired," Redmon received 6 months "home detention. He was doing his time at home "concurrently with a one-year jail sentence for unrelated drug violations," the Tribune reported.  

Which means he should have been in jail, right?   But that question is hard to answer.  Redmon landed a "6-month credit for time served" that subtracted 12 months from 18 months of jail time -- and sent him home.    

Given this convoluted math, it's doubtful even his own lawyers know why Malcolm Redmon is continually free to commit crimes, though they certainly should know by now. 

Redmon's 2007 exploits sparked a crime-prevention debate that had community leaders fretting then as now (read stories here, here, and here).  

That year, Redmon -- then 24 -- was arrested and charged for shooting into a crowd and injuring a 15 year old boy and a 20-year old man.   But because no one would testify against him, he went free. 
Just one year later, he was arrested in connection with another shooting, allegedly over a crack cocaine deal gone bad.  He had just been paroled from an eight-year prison sentence for several felonies. 

But if he was paroled from an 8-year prison sentence in Oct. 2008, why was he arrested for the Oct. 2007 shooting?  Why wasn't he in prison? 

Maybe the courts hope someone else will take Redmon off the streets.   He was the intended target of a shooting at Chuck E. Cheese last year.   Several bullets entered the crowded kids restaurant, but Redmon -- who seems to be having the last laugh through all this -- wasn't injured. 

Now, Redmon wants a new judge over his latest beef.    He's back in court for violating his home detention sentence.   Violating home detention.  

Is Columbia's fight against crime hopeless or what?   

-- Mike Martin for the Columbia Heart Beat


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