Editorial: Harsh reminder about justice

A local case underscores some of the cruel realities in our justice system for punishing criminals.

The unsettling case of a Lawrence man connected to the death of a Missouri woman is a sobering reminder of the continuing need to make improvements to the criminal justice system in Douglas County.

On April 29, emergency personnel were called to a home at 3323 Iowa St., where they found 27-year-old Sabrina Frock of Brookfield, Mo., unconscious with a number of injuries. She was flown to the University of Kansas hospital, where she died on May 1 from trauma to her head, Frock’s mother said. Her death remains under investigation, and police aren’t releasing more details.

No one has been arrested in connection with Frock’s death, but she had come to Lawrence to see 32-year-old Shane S. Allen, whom she had met through an online dating site. She was found at Allen’s trailer home and Allen was with her when emergency personnel arrived.

Allen, 32, is on probation for reportedly holding a KU student against her will at the same trailer home in April 2016.

Like Frock, Allen’s victim in the 2016 case told police she met him online. In April 2016, Allen picked her up at her sorority house and took her to his trailer home, where she’d planned to spend the night and go back home the next morning. But the victim said Allen became jealous of her and began punching and kicking her that night. She said Allen forced her to stay with him for nearly a week, during which he continued to abuse her. He also forced her to send messages to friends telling them she was OK. The woman told police she was afraid to try to escape and that she thought Allen “would eventually kill her.”

She finally convinced him that if he took her home she would not call police.

Allen avoided prison by entering a plea to lesser charges and was granted a two-year probation in December 2016. That probation instructed him to delete all online dating accounts and to stop using such services.

Since that time, Allen has accumulated a number of probation violations, including using methamphetamine on multiple dates, failing to report for multiple appointments with his probation officer, failure to make fee payments and failure to show up for treatment appointments at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

To recap, despite reportedly holding a KU student against her will and physically abusing her for more than a week, Allen was sentenced to probation. Despite violating the terms of that probation multiple times, Allen remained free — free to connect with Sabrina Frock through an online dating app and lure her to Lawrence.

Now Frock is dead. Allen remained free until Wednesday, when a judge issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with violating the terms of his probation.

It’s one thing to discuss, in the abstract, incarceration alternatives, jail crowding, spikes in violent crime and the link between substance abuse and crime. It’s quite another to put names and faces to those issues and come to grips with their very real consequences.

Until the investigation into her death is complete, it’s impossible to know what will happen in Sabrina Frock’s case. The only thing that is clear is that she deserved better from the criminal justice system.

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