This is a tragedy. The timing just makes it worse.
A Marine Veteran who advocated for criminal justice reform was shot and killed last Tuesday morning just hours before the legislation he advocated for passed into law.
Kelvin Blowe, 32, worked as a policy and advocacy fellow with DC Justice Lab, an organization that was advocating for changes to the city’s criminal code. Blowe was one of several people to testify before the DC Council about criminal justice reform.
On Tuesday, November 15, at around 5:45 am, Blowe was shot and killed.
The veteran had also worked as a security guard and was driving some of his co-workers home after a late night shift. Blowe was driving on Southern Ave. near Suitland Parkway in SE when there was a collision after a driver crossed the line to try to pass his car.
Blowe’s family says he got out of his vehicle after the accident and that was when he was shot and killed.
The city council passed the criminal justice overhaul hours after his death. If it is signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, then it will get rid of most mandatory minimum sentences, expand who is eligible for jury trials, and reduce maximum penalties for burglaries, carjackings and robberies, according to the Washington Post.
Source: Fox News
“It’s kind of hard to put into words what it feels like to see his work come to fruition without being able to share in that celebration with him,” Patrice Sulton, Executive Director DC Justice Lab, told Fox 5 DC. “In some ways the timing of it is an added injury on top of the loss. And I think we lost a really powerful voice in a really important movement and that’s not something that we’ll be able to replace.”
Blowe’s story is not an unfamiliar one — he had struggled with PTSD and turned to drugs after getting out of the military. His substance abuse problem led to a 66-month prison sentence. After spending time in prison, he became determined to help ex-convicts reintegrate into society and assist them in getting the services they needed after being incarcerated.
His uncle, Rev Keith Johnson, who helped raise Blowe and his three brothers said that Blowe was always drawn to helping people — even as a child.
“We have to learn to love each other and bring the city together — that’s what my nephew was trying to do,” Johnson told Fox 5 D.C.
No arrests have been made and D.C. Police say that the case is still under investigation.
This is all a such a tragedy. Kelvin Blowe served this country, turned his life around, and was an advocate for ex-cons who wanted to do the same. It’s admirable.
The problem is that many criminal justice reform advocates like DC Justice Lab forget is that incarceration is supposed to be a penalty for breaking the law. Does it need some reform in some cases? Probably.
In a perfect world, someone would go to jail, learn their lesson, and come out and become productive members of society.
This isn’t a perfect world, and we know that a whole lot of people go on to re-offend.
That isn’t always because they’re treated as “other” because they’ve been in the clink — to quote Alfred in The Dark Knight, “some men just want to watch the world burn.”
What do we do with people like that?
What about the people who commit crimes simply because they know that there will be no penalty for it?
The unprovoked, violent attacks on the streets and subways in New York and the casual way people are looting stores in L.A. show that removing penalties and creating revolving door jails doesn’t deter criminal behavior, it exacerbates it.
We don’t know who shot and killed Kelvin Blowe, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it was someone who had a rap sheet as long as your arm.
Who shoots a guy after being at-fault in a car accident? Someone who is pretty hardened, is perhaps the nicest way of putting it.
Let’s hope D.C. police catch the guy and justice can be served.