Arizona has typically had a reputation for being tougher on crime than states on the Pacific coast. Rarely do you hear about violent criminals released without bail or shown extreme leniency only to commit more crimes and the results have generally led to safer streets. However, a recent tragedy not only underscores that we are not perfect in that regard but also illustrates what is at stake.
You have probably heard of the murder of Scottsdale resident Lauren Heike, senselessly killed while hiking by a man named Zion Teasley. What is less talked about however is that the killer was a violent felon who should have been behind bars at the time of the murder.
Teasley was arrested in 2020 on multiple charges, including armed robbery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and aggravated assault after a number of convenience store robberies. However, he was given an early release with probation, thus setting the stage for him to be back on the streets and able to commit this heinous crime.
Teasley previously said that he had been drinking heavily due to depression, presumably designed as a reason why he would commit armed robbery and aggravated assault. But plenty of people drink too much but have enough sense not to rob convenience stores with weapons. While we would like to think that everyone can be rehabilitated into society and become model citizens, that is simply not the case. While he was young and had a lot of potential ahead of him, a three year prison sentence doesn’t seem heavy-handed considering the crimes.
And this exemplifies the current schism between leftist policies compared to the rest of the country; many areas that are led by district attorneys who prefer leniency to justice, that have judges appointed by leaders who are led by the same ideologies have these sorts of issues. And the result is policies that put a preference towards aiding the perpetrator instead of justice and safety.
This tragedy should not go unnoticed, and the victim should not be unheard. When justice isn’t properly doled out, the impacts can be very, very far-reaching. So when pundits talk about “restorative justice”, we must keep in mind that there are two sides to the coin of every crime, both a perpetrator and a victim. And while we shouldn’t immediately give up on perpetrators as being purely without potential societal value, we should never forget to prioritize the victim first.