What happens when the evil party and the stupid party get together to pass legislation? We get something evil and stupid.
The most important electoral project for President Trump over the next two years is to win back suburban voters who don’t support the Soros agenda but have been turned off by some of Trump’s demeanor. There is no issue that is more important to suburban women voters than the safety and security of their neighborhoods. Specifically, in recent years, many suburban neighborhoods have experienced an increase in crime as a result of weak criminal justice policies, in addition to a polydrug crisis ravaging our youth.
Being tough on drug traffickers, gun felons, sanctuary cities, illegal immigration, and crime in general is not only the right thing to do, but also the perfect wedge issue to expose the radicalism of Soros Democrats in these critical districts Republicans will need to win back in 2020. Such an agenda will expose these “moderate” Democrats for the phonies they really are on the issues that their constituents care about. Instead, the stupid party is making it top priority in the lame-duck session to use its last remaining month of full control to pass the Soros agenda on crime, thereby not only giving Democrats a pass, but becoming the party of weak on crime.
This legislation will retroactively release drug traffickers and gun felons from federal prison. Moreover, many of these people are foreign nationals who shouldn’t be in the country in the first place. In all my time in politics, I’ve never seen a more self-destroying policy move at the worst time, directed at the most important demographic.
As of now, the plan is to combine the House-passed “First Step Act,” which provides numerous back-end early release credits for federal prisoners, together with most of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s front-end sentencing reductions in one “compromise” piece of legislation.
Here are just a few of the concerns:
- When the back-end early release programs from the House bill and the front-end sentencing reductions of the Senate bill are combined, hard-core drug traffickers, responsible for the lion’s share of the 72,000 drug deaths in 2017, who are sentenced to 20 years would be released after 7 years and 10 months. They call this prison reform, but it’s a prison release bill. Remember when they promised us they wouldn’t add on the sentencing bill? Well, they lied.
- Prisoners need not do anything more than they are already doing to be eligible for the early release credits. The bill is written like a talking point and refers to programs that already exist. The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has a very thorough overview of how the standards for these programs are completely vacuous.
- A number of the worst gun felons and drug traffickers will be eligible for early release into home confinement. This includes illegal aliens who compose a large share of the federal prison population, particularly among those serving time for drug trafficking. As we’ve noted before, the drug problem is almost all an external immigration problem at the primary trafficking level. If you want fewer people in federal prison for drug charges, and most importantly fewer drugs on the streets, we need to first solve the immigration and sanctuary problem.
- 4,000 hardened federal prisoners would be immediately released upon passage of this bill.
- For all the talk of bipartisan concerns of over-criminalization of “small” white-collar crimes, this bill does nothing to clean up the federal code, which is true criminal justice reform. Instead, it is just an early release bill as part of a broader trend with more odious provisions in the future.
- The bill expands the “safety valve,” which circumvents the mandatory sentencing and is already in widespread use, to those with significant criminal histories. Even under current policy, only 12 percent of drug traffickers wind up serving their full mandatory sentences. So much for “low-level, nonviolent” offenders.
- Section 401 of the bill mandates that the Bureau of Prisons place prisoners within 500 miles of their homes. This provision is unworkable and would effectively force prisons to house local gang members together, keeping their criminal ties to each other active.
- Remember, only 10 percent of the national prison population is in federal prison. These are the worst of the worst and are often people whom the federal prosecutors pursue on gun and drug charges but who have committed even worse crimes yet escaped justice in the state systems. This is why, according to the United States Sentencing Commission, 72.8 percent of federal offenders sentenced in 2016 had already been convicted of a prior offenses, with an average of six convictions each.
- This bill and its broader movement seek more expensive programs while simultaneously touting a talking point of cutting costs – the worst of all worlds. For example, the bill dramatically shifts convicts from prisons to halfway houses, home confinement, and vaguely defined “community supervision.” According to the Bureau of Prisons, these arrangements cost two to three times as much per diem as fixed institutions. By not appropriating the money in order to brag about cutting costs, this bill will endanger public safety. Moreover, the prison wardens union is concerned that because this bill promises endless new entitlements in prison but doesn’t deliver the funding, it will endanger the security of the wardens by exposing them to more vulnerable logistical situations.
Facts and details about the trends in prison population and crime rates, the nature of federal prisoners, the role of illegal immigration in the drug crisis, the current weak policies on safety valves, and the details of what the bill actually does and doesn’t do matter. The direction of the broader movement pushing this and where it is coming from and where it is headed matters. Chanting mindless slogans about ill-defined “criminal justice reform” like the sheep in “Animal Farm” doesn’t alter these facts.
The opposite of what Trump promised
President Trump promised just the opposite. He promised tougher sentencing and less jailbreak and even floated the idea of the death penalty for top traffickers. Why don’t we fulfill that promise first before pushing other leniencies? Also, with Democrats stealing elections with non-citizens voting, how about addressing that in the lame-duck session before addressing the greatest priority of George Soros? Why is this the sacred agenda?
In a telephone briefing on October 23, Kellyanne Conway told reporters that “nobody here is talking about exempting high-level drug traffickers.” In fact, she said the president is asking the DOJ to come up with tougher policies on high-level drug traffickers because there are “high-level drug traffickers getting little to no punishment because they know just how to stay under the minimum weeks.”
Yet, this bill does the opposite and makes no meaningful exceptions to the leniencies.
The only thing dumber than House Republicans responding to the electoral loss by picking Kevin McCarthy as their minority leader is to pass this piece of jailbreak after losing suburban voters. Unlike the laughably biased polling of the Left, the Foundation for Safeguarding Justice asked respondents in a comprehensive survey whether they would support or oppose a proposal to reduce federal government penalties for traffickers in heroin, fentanyl, and similar drugs – a straightforward description of the bill. Even 70 percent of Democrats opposed it, and opposition was highest among middle-class families with children. It is especially dumb given that there are over 100 better pieces of legislation that passed the House that could be taken up in the lame duck of the Senate.
If the president was actually committed to his plan to get tough on crime, he would demand the following compromise:
- Any leniency would only apply to future convicts. No retroactivity.
- Stiffen fines for drug traffickers above a certain threshold.
- Pass the Hatch-Cotton bill to fix the SCOTUS decision that allows a number of violent criminals to escape mandatory sentencing, including criminal aliens.
- Focus first on busting up sanctuary cities and deterring illegal immigration, which is the primary source of drug trafficking killing our cities and also incarcerating people.
- Deport as many criminal aliens sitting in federal prison as possible. Let’s start saving money by not incarcerating other countries’ criminals.
- Focus on the true impetus for criminal justice reform that luminaries such as Ed Meese signed on to a decade ago; namely, over-criminalization of nonsense crimes. Pass Hatch’s mens rea reform bill on criminal intent and clean up Title 18 of the criminal code for duplicative and random provisions. Don’t let out the worst federal street thugs. As Meese warned when the Senate bill was introduced, “No one should be fooled into believing that at the federal level, prosecutors have charged and judges have sentenced thousands of defendants to years in prison for committing ‘minor’ drug offenses.” Scandalously, phony conservative proponents of jailbreak wrongly tout Meese’s support for cleaning up regulatory crimes as justification for jailbreak.
Rather than pressuring conservatives to “get to yes” on jailbreak, the Swamp should get to yes on being tougher on crime. Trump never campaigned on jailbreak; he campaigned on law and order. To use the waning days of Republican control of the trifecta of government to do the opposite would be one of the most Orwellian moments in political history.
Author: Daniel Horowitz
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.