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VICTOR JOECKS: Chinatown shooting shows need for cash bail

There’s an obvious downside to blindly bailing out people arrested for serious crimes. Once released, they may commit additional — and worse — offenses.

Days before Christmas, a man attempted to rob the ShangHai Taste restaurant in Las Vegas. He encountered Chengyan Wang and shot him 11 times. Fortunately, Wang is expected to survive.

The suspect is Rashawn Gaston-Anderson, and he had his initial court appearance on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, the court denied bail. How things might be different for Wang if the court had done the same after Gaston-Anderson’s second November arrest.

Yep. Police had him in custody just weeks prior. He was arrested twice in November. After the first arrest, the court released him and told him to stay away from the resort corridor.

Perhaps a judge should have told him not to commit any additional crimes. Within two days, police arrested him again — this time for burglary and grand larceny. A judge set $3,000 cash bail on Nov. 16.

Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty. But the November evidence suggested the public would be safer if Gaston-Anderson were in prison while awaiting trial.

That’s where he was until The Bail Project intervened. It’s a national nonprofit that wants to end cash bail. In the meantime, it puts potential criminals back on the street by posting their bail. It bailed out Gaston-Anderson on Dec. 14. Wang was shot on Dec. 20.

If found guilty, Gaston-Anderson is the only person responsible for the shooting. But what The Bail Project is doing is reckless.

Gaston-Anderson wasn’t a first time offender. He has an extensive criminal history, including felony convictions in three states over the past four years. That included a 2018 guilty plea in Las Vegas.

If you release enough people with that type of profile after they’ve been arrested, bad things will happen.

They already have. On Dec. 14, police believe Kirklin Oates stole a knife from the kitchen of a restaurant at the Paris Las Vegas. He then attempted to slash the throat of an employee. Oates is also not a stranger to police. He’s a six-time felon from California. Before the stabbing, Las Vegas police had arrested him four times in six months. He was arrested on Dec. 5 for attacking a woman’s car. He didn’t need The Bail Project to spring him. The Las Vegas Justice Court released him on his own recognizance. Not great.

This is happening nationally, too. The man who allegedly drove his car through a Christmas parade — killing six people and injuring dozens — had his bail for a previous offense set at just $1,000. You’re supposed to forget that attack, because his potential motive doesn’t fit the national mainstream media’s preferred narrative.

People charged with crimes haven’t been convicted of anything. But there’s a societal interest in keeping those credibly accused of serious crimes off the streets. Cash bail can provide that balance and has for decades.

Unfortunately, many liberals have successfully attacked that concept. Some courts and prosecutors are either not setting bail or setting it far too low. That makes it easy for an outside group to bail out people such as Gaston-Anderson.

Even if you thought cash bail once needed reform, what’s happening now shows that those “reforms” have been taken too far.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter

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