There is a case to be made that America puts too many of its citizens in prison, especially its black males, but the man accused of killing an Indian student and shooting three Kansas City cops would not have made a good poster child for that cause.
In reviewing the criminal history of Marlin James Mack Jr., whom the KC police shot and killed last weekend, one could make the case that not enough people are in prison.
According to the Associated Press, Mack was first arrested as a 15-year-old in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for breaking into cars. He was subsequently arrested for bringing a gun to school. Despite that background, and a reputation as being a chronic thief, Mack would serve only only three-and-a-half years in prison for robbing a woman at gunpoint in front of her three children.
Seven months after being released Mack was arrested again, this time for being a felon in possession of a gun. He would serve only a year on that charge before being released in February 2017. Given his reputation in Tulsa as “a liar and misfit extraordinaire,” Mack quit Oklahoma for the Kansas City area.
Mack has no criminal record in Kansas or Missouri, but it is hard to believe that when he shot Indian grad student Sharath Koppu during a robbery at a restaurant on Kansas City’s east side, it was his first misadventure in this area. His father, by the way, has been in prison since the year 2000 for shooting two people in the head.
The homicide clearance rate in Kansas City is roughly 50 percent. Mack upped his odds of getting caught by shooting a student, especially an Indian student, which drew more attention to the case.
The clearance rate for crimes short of murder, with the exception of bank robberies, is dramatically less. The clearance rate for burglaries, for instance, is only 10 percent. Had Mack robbed an east side restaurant without shooting anyone, there is little chance he would have been caught.
Indeed, there may be too many people in prison, but as the Mack case suggests, there are also too many people not in prison.