While jailbreak, known by its proponents as “criminal justice reform,” is misguided on the state level, it is downright built upon a false premise on the federal level. The latest report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission demonstrates that the 800-pound gorilla in the room clogging up the federal criminal justice system is immigration, not “low-level” domestic offenders.
If we only solved our border problem and deported illegal aliens before they commit more crimes, not only would we be safer, but we’d save a ton of money on the federal criminal justice system – without irresponsibly releasing American criminals back into our communities, as proposed by jailbreak proponents.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in its recently published 2018 report on federal sentencing statistics, 54.3 percent of the 69,425 federal offenders last year were Hispanic, and 42.7 percent of offenders were non-citizens. The two biggest offense categories were immigration (34.4 percent) and drugs (28.1 percent).
This is why methamphetamine was actually the most common drug charge, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The biggest increase in drug activity from the cartels was meth, not marijuana or even heroin. Thus, our federal drug prosecutions are all about the most violent transnational cartels and gangs. Federal prosecutors don’t waste their time with “low-level” Americans in New York or Chicago. Drug possession charges accounted for just 3.9 percent of federal offenders, and almost all of those were in border districts because they involved immigration cases.
The notion that the feds go after drug possession is just a straight-up lie. 63 percent of all non-citizens charged for drug trafficking in 2018 were illegal aliens. Moreover, because illegal alien networks are the antecedent for much of the trafficking from the cartels, if we were to enforce our immigration laws on the front end, many Americans who get roped into drug trafficking would never have the opportunity to do so.
As Robert Murphy, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Atlanta office, told me last year, “Predominantly, what we arrest here is illegal aliens.” He noted that were we to close our border and deport all criminal aliens, the cartels would struggle to survive. “Sure, you might find some Americans who would be willing to go to Mexico and work for the cartels, but it won’t be the level that they need to have the control of the U.S. market like they do now with the illegals and Mexican nationals.”
To begin with, the federal prison population overall has plummeted over the past decade, the exact opposite of the jailbreak narrative. The imprisonment rate for sentenced prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction decreased 2.1 percent from 2016 to 2017 and 13 percent since 2007, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The imprisonment rate for sentenced prisoners older than 18 was the lowest since 1995.
The decline in the federal system is even sharper. The federal system, to begin with, only accounts for 12 percent of the incarcerated population, and if they are not in the system for immigration charges, they are usually those who’ve graduated to big-time crimes. Yet since just 2012, the federal prison population has declined by 16 percent.
Still, the jailbreakers think that all of the releases, under-sentencing, and lack of convictions are not enough “progress” in dismantling law and order in this country.
What these numbers also demonstrate is the degree of criminality from illegal aliens in this country. Defenders of open borders will retort by noting that the overwhelming number of non-citizen offenders are in the system for immigration violations, which is self-fulfilling and doesn’t demonstrate that they commit more crime in general. However, they miss the point that most U.S. attorneys will not waste their time prosecuting someone for a standard immigration charge unless they believe they are engaged in trafficking for the cartels or have committed other crimes.
Most illegal aliens now are either given de facto amnesty and released, or they are deported. If they are turned over to the DOJ for prosecution, there is usually more than just immigration violations, though they charge them with immigration violations, which are open-and-shut cases, in order to save time and resources. In fact, in 2012, the DOJ adopted a “fast-track” prosecutorial procedure in the border districts to allow criminal aliens to plead down for the purpose of deporting them expeditiously. Were they to remain in the country, as many weak-on-crime and open-borders advocated want, they would be prosecuted for other crimes. And had we not deported millions of criminal aliens over the past two decades, we would be dealing with an unimaginable level of crime from those who would remain in the country. Remember, we actually have deported some of the worst criminal elements among illegal aliens, and yet there are still this many coming into the justice system.
So the next time you hear someone complaining about too many people locked up in federal prison for “stupid drug charges,” ask them their position on immigration.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.