Inmate Edward Williams charged with murder day after coronavirus prison release

Good intentions often die hard. That’s the lesson in Florida after a State judge ordered the humanitarian release of inmates awaiting trial – including those with felony charges – citing fears of coronavirus spread in the prison. As a result, one inmate is now back in jail on murder charges after allegedly shooting a man to death the day after his release.

Released Florida Inmate Facing Murder Charges 

Inmate Edward Williams was literally given a get-out-of-jail free pass because of the coronavirus epidemic. Authorities believe the 26-year-old man used that as an opportunity to kill someone the very next day.

Amid pressure from the left and Hollywood, more states are weighing the ‘humanitarian’ release of inmates. Some look at the severity of the crime, others are looking at violent vs. non-violent crimes.

RELATED: Lawmakers Add To Public Danger With Release Of Violent Offenders From Prison Amid Coronavirus

Florida caved to that pressure when a state judge authorized local sheriffs “to release any pretrial detainee arrested for a municipal or county ordinance violation, a misdemeanor offense, a criminal traffic offense, or a third-degree felony offense.”

This included Edward Williams who didn’t waste any time returning to his life of crime.

Now, the Williams faces charges of second-degree murder, gun possession, violently resisting an officer, drug possession and paraphernalia possession.

In this case, the State put the welfare of a criminal ahead of the public, and that decision proved costly.

March 19 Release, March 20 Murder

According to the charges, Williams was involved in a shooting homicide the very next day after his humanitarian release.

From Bearing Arms

An inmate who was released from the Hillsborough County Jail in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus is back behind bars and accused of committing second-degree murder the day after he got out of jail, deputies say.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirms 26-year-old Joseph Edwards Williams was arrested on a warrant Monday night in Gibsonton.

They say he is connected to a March 20 shooting homicide in the Progress Village area. Deputies responded at 10:40 that night to several 911 calls about gunshots fired near 81st Street South and Ash Avenue. A man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Online jail records show Williams had been released from custody at 8:02 a.m. on Thursday, March 19 per an administrative order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the county jails. The sheriff’s office says he was one of more than 100 inmates released from custody until trial.

“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “As a result, I call on the State Attorney to prosecute this defendant to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Tampa man was released from jail just six days after being picked up. He was arrested on charges of heroin possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

That wasn’t apparently enough of a concern to hold him in jail during the pandemic. So someone decided that Williams was not a risk to society and allowed him to walk away from prison life.

Consequently, that decision was a fatal one.

Prison Release Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“The order was drafted in an effort to lower the risk of the spread of COVID-19 within the Hillsborough County detention facilities and to protect the inmates, deputies and civilian staff working within the jails,” the local sheriff’s department said in a statement.

Now, Williams’ alleged crime poured gasoline on public concerns with the priorities of those making decisions regarding prisoner release.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff Department has reportedly released 164 low-level and non-violent offenders. This is happening across the country during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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There are often tight quarters in jail which can inflame the situations caused by a pandemic. But, carelessly releasing people like Williams certainly isn’t in the public’s best interests. 

Public officials must weigh the risks to individuals in prison against those it is their duty to protect in the public.

While authorities have to balance keeping coronavirus from ravaging prisons, their first priorities should be protecting law-abiding residents. 

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