Johnny Lewis' Death: 'The Justice System Failed Us,' Says HLN Host Jane Velez-Mitchell

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Johnny Lewis' Violent Past
'Sons of Anarchy' actor had an extensive criminal history. Read More »

When the world first learned of Johnny Lewis' sudden death, it all seemed like a shock. But was it really?

In the past 10 months, the Sons of Anarchy star — whose body was found in the driveway of an L.A. neighborhood after falling or leaping to his own death on Sept. 26 — had many run-ins with the law, well-documented drug struggles, orders to out-patient counseling and even served time behind bars. In fact, he was released just five days before his demise.

So should the warning signs of Lewis' twisted and troubled life been better heeded?

"The answer is absolutely," said HLN host Jane Velez-Mitchell. "The justice system failed us, and failed that landlady and her cat in the months leading up to that debacle."

"Cops say that Johnny Lewis broke into a home and beat two men with a Pierre bottle and then, about a month later, attacked a man who was coming out of a yogurt shop and punched him in the face," he said. "Despite all that, he was sentenced to 30 days in treatment. And after completing that, he was put on probation."

But Velez-Mitchell thinks Lewis' sentencing should've been more stringent. "Now, as a person in recovery, I’m all in favor of acknowledging that there is a substance abuse problem that needs to be treated, but violence is violence. And if somebody is violent, they need to be behind bars, in some sort of lock-down where they can’t hurt anybody else or themselves."

"This should be a wake-up call for judges," she warned. "There were many alarm bells in this case and…they all fell on deaf eyes. If somebody is behaving proactively in a violent fashion, just some kind of treatment program and then probation ain’t enough.”

In the end, Velez-Mitchell sees one take-home message from Lewis' heartbreaking case: “Learn from this horror.”

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