SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and even slower to anger” are the words on a plaque inside a courtroom at the Greene County Courthouse. But Prosecutor Dan Patterson says in one case specifically, one judge, was too slow to punish.
26-year-old Jamaal Walls has been sentenced to probation yet again after many chances and a long criminal history. But the Greene County prosecutor says he should be behind bars right now.
Walls moved to Greene County in 2015 from Kansas City. At the time, he was on probation for many crimes and would soon commit new ones here.
Among those, abandoning a toddler inside a vehicle and fleeing from officers on two separate occasions.
“The legislature tells us that you should get probation when incarceration is not necessary for the safety of the public and an offender is amenable to rehabilitation in the community,” said Patterson. “Neither of those standards were indicated by this defendant’s conduct.”
Wall was charged with stealing multiple TVs and on a separate occasion computers from Walmart, all while on probation from other violent crimes. Judge David Jones sentenced him to probation.
The state pushed for two seven-year sentences, citing Walls’ many previous charges and many previous chances.
“Every time he was released he victimized someone else,” Patterson said.
The prosecutor says a few years ago walls was convicted of robbing a woman, and then two fast food restaurants while armed. And while in custody, he was charged with punching a corrections officer.
“I think it’s important that the public understands the standard that is being set for our community in terms of criminal justice, and sometimes it’s important for that to be part of the public conversation,” Patterson said.
Patterson says this wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time there’s disagreement in the court.
“It happens from time to time,” he said.
But he believes sentences should set the standard and set examples.
“People in the jail talk. People that are in that criminal community talk. People need to know that you’re out on bond, or on probation, that there will be consequences,” he said.
On Tuesday, Judge David Jones sentenced another man, Damien Barajas, to ten years in prison for a robbery in 2015 where he used a knife to threaten a prevention officer.
Patterson says Barajas also has an extensive criminal history.