At least three vicious killers released from New Jersey prisons have committed new murders and a teenage girl recently become the 22nd homicide victim in the state capital but so far, former GOP Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli has only generally criticized Democratic Governor Phil Murphy for his handing of crime and violence.
Ciattarelli, the Republican nominee for New Jersey Governor, highlighted rising crime and what he called Murphy’s “anti-police agenda” in a digital advertisement released in July.
During the first debate, when Murphy described a balance of individual rights with public safety and noted that he had endorsements from two police unions, Ciattarelli, the self-professed law and order candidate, shot back saying, “Demoralized cops with curfews at the Jersey Shore.”
The Republican challenger missed a chance to make concrete claims about Murphy’s policies and he utterly failed to mention that the incumbent created a legion of killers reminiscent of Willie Horton, the Massachusetts murderer who probably cost Michael Dukakis the 1988 presidential election.
The alleged killer of James Gist III, 29, of Westampton and Marcus Thompson, 29, of Willingboro, is 27-year-old Ronny Paden Jr. of Delran, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, which said the suspect who’s accused of murdering those men on Jan. 24, was released early from prison in November 2020 under a policy meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 among inmates. Paden had been serving a five-year term in connection with a September 2016 shooting that wounded a man in Willingboro.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said Murphy’s policy allowed inmates to be freed “without any individualized consideration of the crime for which they were convicted or the risk that they will resume their criminal activities.”
Another accused killer who Murphy released from prison, Theodore Luckey, is a 42-year-old ex-con and sex offender from New Jersey who faces charges in the monstrous slaying of two men at a hotel in Bedford, New Hampshire.
Police found two men dead at the hotel on Aug. 21. Autopsies showed that Nathan Cashman died from multiple chop wounds to the head, neck, and body. David Hanford of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, was strangled to death.
Luckey had been released on May 7 with “public health emergency credits” as part of Murphy’s effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the prison system, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
Senator Michael Testa cited ‘the insanity’ of Murphy’s early release of thousands of dangerous criminals after murder charges were filed against Jerry D. Crawford for a crime he allegedly committed just two days after he was let out of South Woods State Prison.
“Murphy should be held fully accountable for his failure to lead while crime rates skyrocket in our communities,” said Ciattarelli in his July advertisement. “His pathetic deflection of ‘blaming the heat and humidity’ is a complete embarrassment and insults the intelligence of New Jerseyans. People up and down this state are extremely concerned, longstanding family traditions are fading away, police recruitment is at an all-time low, and the only thing Murphy has to offer is his usual ‘thoughts and prayers’ from another heavily staged press conference. Enough is enough – it’s time for Murphy to go.”