Judge Michael Lopez releases career criminal

Judge Michael Lopez’s decision to release career criminal Dennis Speed has ignited a firestorm of criticism. Speed, a known repeat offender with a history of criminal convictions, was released on his own recognizance despite fatally shooting Ervin Wiggins with an illegally-possessed firearm.

Speed was apprehended by the United States Marshal’s Violent Felony Fugitive Task Force and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. The arrest stems from the murder of Ervin Wiggins.

Police revealed that on July 16, Wiggins shot and killed Porter Mizell over an alleged dispute. Subsequently, Speed returned fire killing Wiggins. The tragic and senseless events are a stark reminder of the violence in our community.

Some argue that Judge Lopez’s decision to release Speed reflects a commitment to rehabilitation and second chances. Others express concerns about public safety given Speed’s previous criminal convictions. Striking a balance between these perspectives is challenging, as it requires considering both the potential for redemption and the need to protect society. Ultimately, this case highlights the complexities inherent in judicial decision-making and the ongoing dialogue surrounding the criminal justice system rehabilitation and public safety policies.

Olean Times Herald reported Judge Lopez is one of a hundred judges of color across the state — who signed a letter that stated in part: “Each day we seek to dispel any narrative or belief that looks upon courts as instruments of injustice, by treating each person fairly and impartially while upholding our oaths to the constitutions of the State of New York and the United States.

Judge Lopez highlights the urgent need to ensure racial equity within the judicial system — emphasizing the importance of addressing implicit bias within the courtroom ranks and expressing concern about the commitment of those overseeing the legal system to make the necessary changes.

Critics argue that Judge Lopez’s decision poses a significant risk to public safety. Speed’s previous criminal convictions, including assault and endangering the welfare of a child, suggest a pattern of behavior.

In response to Speed’s release, Kevin Lockhart expressed his concerns about the state of crime in Rochester and Monroe County. He emphasized the need for violent criminals to be kept off the streets to prevent further crimes. Lockhart urged citizens to contact their Assemblymembers.

Lockhart posted, “Rochester City Court Justice Michael Lopez released Dennis Speed from custody after killing a man during an argument over a girl.

This is exactly why crime is out of control in Rochester and more broadly Monroe County. Violent criminals are being released back into the streets to commit more crimes. It’s a compounding effect.

Call your Assemblymember and tell them to make this the #1 priority for their legislative delegation in Albany once legislative sessions start back up in January.”

A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics — found that within three years of release, about 68% of violent offenders were rearrested. This alarming statistic emphasizes the review for stricter measures to prevent the release of violent criminals who are likely to commit further offenses.

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