As a lifelong resident of Maryland I’ve watched radical Democrats promote criminal rights at every turn. Last month, the Maryland legislature passed a bill granting 40,000 felons the right to vote as they continue to serve out their sentences in half-way houses or on parole or probation. There is no coincidence that this effort coincides with their broader national push to reduce the prison population at all costs and push more people into probation-style arrangements to serve out their sentences.
The end-goal of the Orwellian-named “criminal justice reform” fad has always been restoring voting rights to more Democrat voters, and this particular Maryland bill kills two birds with one stone. As the GOP governor of Maryland Larry Hogan said following the legislature’s override of his veto: “Only a tiny, radical minority supports this idea. But they did it anyway. They don’t seem to care what most Marylanders want. Why did they do it anyway? Because they can.”
I always said that it’s good this tiny fringe doesn’t control our national government and is only relegated to the most liberal of blue states. Oh wait. Actually, this agenda is the biggest priority of House Republicans. After the Senate jailbreak bill was stalled by the objections of Sens. Sessions, Perdue, and Cotton, the House is moving full-steam ahead with small tweaks and a piecemeal strategy. As blue states are moving towards restoring voting rights to felons, Republicans are carrying the ball into the Democrat end zone by passing legislation to reduce sentences, convert prison time to parole and probationary arrangements, and expand programs that grant good behavior credits to prisoners.
Last Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill achieving many of these goals. They fail to understand that these “recidivism reduction programs,” in which much of the sentence is transferred to probationary programs, have been tried in the states and are completely ineffective. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study, which tracked 404,638 prisoners released from state prisons in 2005, found that 76.6% were rearrested within five years.
Evidently, Republicans are not too concerned about moving legislation on immigration, refugees, and clamping down on Obama’s lawless DOJ. Helping Democrats release career criminals and chart them on the ineluctable path towards creating a permanent Democrat voting majority is a bigger priority.
The entire effort to reduce the federal prison population during a time of rising crime is not only wrongheaded, it’s built on an erroneous premise. Proponents of the jailbreak legislation loosely toss around the statistic of 2.3 million people incarcerated in prison. But pending legislation only deals with the federal system and there are only 195,730 federal inmates, with only 160, 252 in actual prisons. And the trajectory is headed down. Even without this legislation, the federal prison population has been reduced by 11% over the past three years. More than half of those in federal prison for drug trafficking (roughly 86,500) have already had their sentences reduced by the increasingly lawless and unaccountable U.S. Sentencing Commission.
And as we’ve noted before, up to 30% of the federal prison population is comprised of non-citizens who should be deported instead of given food and shelter on the taxpayer dime.
Last week, the Washington Post blew up another myth: the rising incarceration level of black citizens. Now, to begin with, the issue of racial disparity in prison is a crock because it merely reflects crime rates. According to IBD’s analysis of the BJS statistics, “[B]lacks under 18 account for just 23% of the nation’s drug offenses, but a shocking 52% of all violent crime — including 51% of murders, 69% of robberies, 34% of rapes and 43% of aggravated assaults.”
Nonetheless, according to Professor Keith Humphreys:
[S]ince 2000, the imprisonment rate among African-American women has dropped 47 percent, while the rate among white women has risen by 56 percent. These trends have combined to shrink the racial disparity in women’s imprisonment by two-thirds.
Incarceration of black males has declined by 22% over the same time.
So why would our politicians sacrifice the one positive social trend – the long-term and precipitous decline in violent crime – when the entire premise for jail break and lenient sentences is built upon a lie? Why would they promote more jail break when the prison population is already shrinking even as violent crime and property crimes begin to rise?
Like everything with Democrats, it’s all about politics. As the Maryland law proves, the end game of criminal justice reform is the registration of more Democrat voters. And although jailbreak is extremely unpopular with swing voters, Democrats have the luxury of sitting back and allowing Republicans to do the dirty work for them, using their own political capital to pay for their electoral demise.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.