Police in Lakeland, Fla., say Jeremiah Fogle, 57, murdered his wife before going into a church Sunday and wounding two ministers.
Had parishioners not disarmed him, there might have been more victims.
But this is not Fogle's first brush with the law. He shot his first wife to death more than two decades ago-but was allowed to go free on probation for that crime.
No one seems to know why.
We hear too often of similar situations, in which murders are committed by people who should have been behind bars but were slapped on the wrists, so to speak, by misguided prosecutors and judges.
We hope prosecutors and judges in our states reflect on the consequences of such humanitarian impulses before deciding to set dangerous criminals free. Giving people like Fogle breaks-whatever the reason-ignores the potential they will commit other serious crimes.
Stiff sentences for those who commit crimes like Fogle's are intended only partly as punishment.
It needs to be remembered putting dangerous felons behind bars also is a way of protecting the public from them.