How criminal justice ‘reform’ will cause more Parklands

Daniel Horowitz · February 28, 2018
How criminal justice ‘reform’ will cause more Parklands
tiero | Getty Images

How could a sheriff’s department ignore 45 credible calls from citizens reporting the impending danger from Nikolas Cruz?

It appears that the department was malfeasant and/or negligent, and no doubt that is true. The stories of incompetence and corruption in the sheriff’s department are being exposed every day.

But there is a more systemic problem in local law enforcement and school districts across the country: Arresting wayward teenagers is considered taboo. If this agenda is left unchecked, we could witness many more potential attackers slipping through the criminal justice system, even in better-run departments.

The hypocrisy of the “criminal justice reform” movement

Look around at every major public policy issue, and you will see that the very statist “firefighters” in each party are really the arsonists who spawned or at least fueled the problem to begin with. We are seeing this in those wanting to throw money at opioid programs while fueling the heroin and fentanyl crisis with their open-borders agenda. And we are also now seeing it with the same people who promote jailbreak and weak criminal justice laws now pinning the blame for public safety issues on the Second Amendment. The “let criminals out of jail and lock up guns” agenda has come full-circle with the politicization of the Parkland shooting.

In addition to promoting open borders and importing criminals from other countries, George Soros’ organizations have made it a priority to gut the entire tough-on-crime agenda that has worked so well in recent decades. They are pushing on all levels of federal, state, and local criminal justice systems to reduce sentencing and release prisoners, particularly younger criminals, in addition to restraining effective policing tactics. They give it the Orwellian name of “criminal justice reform.” Of course, their end game is more felons voting, which we have vividly witnessed in Virginia, Maryland, and now in Florida at the behest of the courts. It’s no different from the end goal of the amnesty agenda: a permanent Democrat majority.

In recent years, they have successfully hooked almost every “conservative” organization and a number of Republican elected officials on their pro-criminal agenda by couching it as a way of saving money. As I noted before, just the day after the Parkland shooting, a number of the most prominent Republicans and Democrats promoting gun control voted for a bill that would provide multiple avenues to retroactively release the worst gun felons and drug traffickers in the country.

Sheriff Scott Israel prided himself on limiting arrests, thanks to federal programs

The jailbreak agenda is definitely on display in the Broward County law enforcement agencies. It turns out that Broward County has been promoting a program, funded in part by the federal government, to incentivize local officials to do everything they can to keep juveniles out of jail. The central problem with all these programs, though, is that the way to keep people out of jail is to prevent crimes, not to prevent actual criminals from going to jail.

Yet the Broward County “PROMISE” program (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education) did the exact opposite. As Catharine Evans writes at the American Thinker, Broward County “had the highest number of school-related arrests statewide at 1,062” before Obama began his Common Core-style grant programs for local jailbreak agendas. Once millions of dollars were doled out for juvenile feel-good programs to avoid arrest, such as the PROMISE program, the number of arrests plummeted by 63 percent from 2011-2012 to the 2015-2016 school year. As Broward County Sheriff Deputies Association President Jeff Bell told Laura Ingraham last week, PROMISE “took all discretion away from law enforcement to effect an arrest if we choose to.”

These new policies were adopted by the Broward County School Board on November 5, 2013, in a Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline, which was signed by Sherriff Scott Israel as well as all the other major local officials. While the agreement gives lip service to not infringing upon the “discretion” of law enforcement, it dictates that officers “shall” take numerous specific steps before making an arrest and generally encourages them to work outside the traditional criminal justice system, a catchphrase of the juvenile jailbreak movement.

Proponents of jailbreak on the Right will contend that these agreements are merely designed to weed out “nonviolent” offenders. But the problem is that because they are attached to state and federal grant programs, the political leadership of law enforcement departments have every incentive to pressure their officers against making arrests across the board. Every nook and cranny of the federal government’s law enforcement and education programs are filled with a culture of leniency on crime. Up until the very last month of the Obama administration, the Department of Education, along with senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and former Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, were promoting “the continuing need to rethink discipline.”

If there was ever an argument for abolishing the Department of Education, the growing concern over school violence and the role of the federal government in pressuring local communities to weaken their disciplinary standards should be the number one reason.

There is certainly to believe the particular leadership of Broward County was corrupt, incompetent, and even had ties to unindicted co-conspirators with Hamas. But to focus exclusively on the character and leadership of Scott Israel misses that his agenda is being fueled by federal funding and a bipartisan political movement across the country. Speaking at a mosque with his Hamas-supporting deputy, Nezar Hamze, Scott Israel said, “I have said over and over again, we have to measure the success of the Broward Sherriff’s office by the kids we keep out of jail, not by the kids we put in jail. We have to give our children second chances and third chances.” Or maybe 45 chances.

Lest you think Israel is uniquely radical, his statement is the gospel of the bipartisan leniency factions in almost every state.

Amazingly, the entire political class is attempting to expand these programs and apply them at a federal level as well, while decrying guns. Even Rep. Mark Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is mindlessly touting vague “criminal justice reform” initiatives as if they are a positive.

Where is the clamor, even on the Right, to end the “reform” of criminal justice rather than attack the Second Amendment? After all, you can’t target the guns going into the wrong hands if you don’t target “the wrong hands” in the first place. The irony is that the bipartisan criminal justice reform agenda will make any background checks moot, particularly for juveniles who escape the entire criminal justice system through programs set up with federal funds, local liberal judges, and Soros-backed NGOs designed to expunge their records and treat them outside the system.

The soft-on-crime crowd can’t have it both ways. They can’t seek tougher laws on guns while seeking lenient laws on the violent criminals. They can’t promote federal policies that incentivize or bully states into putting more names in a NICs database while promoting policies that encourage states to lock up as few criminals as possible. The entire criminal justice “reform” movement has created a culture, pressure, and incentive for cops and county governments to be as lenient as possible when it comes to incarcerating juveniles, the exact opposite of the cultural pressure from the past two decades.

Rather than pandering on gun control while simultaneously promoting jailbreak legislation, Republicans would do better to cut off all funding for jailbreak grant programs through the Department of Justice and Department of Education and call upon Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind all Obama-era memorandums pressuring local school districts to change their methods of discipline.

Then again, if “doing something” is limited to releasing criminals from jail while locking up the guns, it’s better to do nothing at all.


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.