You can’t make this stuff up. The president criticizes the Koch brothers for their stance on crime and immigration. He then peppers every one of his candidate endorsements with an assessment of that candidate’s views on crime. Clearly, the president is the only one who even focuses on this issue. Good for him. But thanks to jailbreak Jared Kushner, Trump is getting sucked into one of the Koch’s biggest priorities – passing a bill that will retroactively release a number of violent drug traffickers and criminal aliens from federal prison…during a time when we’re experiencing one of the worst drug crises in our history!
Today, a group of senators committed to reducing the prison population at all costs instead of reducing crime are convincing Trump to support a last-minute push for the Senate to pass the House-passed “FIRST Step” Act. Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Mike Lee, R-Utah were reportedly headed to the White House for discussions this afternoon.
As we explained in a series of articles a few months ago (here, here, and here), this is a bill that is misleadingly sold as reforming conditions inside of prisons, but it in fact is an early release bill built on lies and obfuscations. The worst firearm’s felons and drug traffickers, including heroin and fentanyl dealers, will have numerous avenues for early release. This bill truly violates the essence of Trump’s MAGA agenda on crime, drugs, illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, and funding of terrorism. In supporting this bill, Trump is helping all the forces aligned against him and his campaign agenda on an issue that lies at the nexus of the opioid crisis, crime, borders, and funding of international crime and terror.
Kushner is getting Trump to veer from his Reaganesque view on crime and drug traffickers into the Van Jones-Kardashian camp where he has teamed up with them to push their anarchist prison reduction agenda. California has already passed such laws with disastrous effects, and these senators want to take this a step further and start early release programs for juvenile murderers.
The aptly-named First Step Act, H.R. 5682, was rushed through the House with no hearings, Congressional Budget Office score, and limited debate under the suspension calendar. No member read the original or revised bill or heard the concerns from numerous law enforcement agencies and prosecutors raising important questions about the results and feasibility of the bill. Nobody bothered to study the reality of crime and incarceration trends other than listen to broad platitudes from Kardashian’s rear end.
Now, they fear that with the Supreme Court confirmation hearings consuming the Senate, there will be no time left to consider this bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are likely pushing Trump to support a rush vote on the Senate floor.
There’s a lot more behind “prison reform”
This bill wasn’t even well-crafted from the ideological perspective of it supporters. For example, it shoves a whole bunch of people into half-way houses and home confinement, which costs much more than basic imprisonment, without even allocating the proper funding.
Even if one supports the underlying early release and numerous good time credit programs in the bill, they must admit that it needs more funding. This is why the Council of Prison Locals within the American Federation of Government Employees, which otherwise supported the bill simply because of a good extraneous provision (allowing guards to stow their personal guns at work) now opposes the bill. They note that because the bill creates a number of new programs for prisoners without allocating the proper funding, it will siphon funds from their mission and also endanger guards because when inmates know they are entitled to benefits but they are unable to implement them, they become more violent.
Proponents of jailbreak want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to release as many people from prison into other arrangements that are often more expensive, but they also want the talking point of saving money. They can’t have it both ways, especially when public safety is not even part of their concern.
But the problems on the underlying merits of this bill and its ‘next steps’ are even worse.
What ever happened to Trump’s regard for law enforcement?
From speaking to members of Congress, it appears that they took their cues from political groups funded by the Kochs. But interestingly enough, nobody seemed to care about law enforcement concerns on something that is fundamentally a law enforcement issue. Shouldn’t we weigh their concerns at least as much as the concerns of special interest agitators and Van Jones and Kim Kardashian?
Here is a sampling of concerns from some of the nine law enforcement agencies that oppose the bill.
The National Sheriff’s Association is concerned that this bill “authorizes the early release of thousands of convicted armed violent criminals and repeat drug traffickers through retroactively increasing good time credits and program participation credits. While the program participation credits exclude certain offenses, heroin and fentanyl traffickers remain among some of the eligible participants.”
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association believes it will “adversely impact our BOP and PPO members, accelerate the release of potentially dangerous prisoners, and endanger the safety of our other members and society in general.”
The Fraternal Order of the Police called the bill “unworkable” because “the Department of Justice would be required to make an individualized assessment of all 180,000 federal offenders in just 180 days.”
The National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition declared, that “There is little, if anything, in the proposed legislation that will actually improve public safety or the security of our communities.” They observe that this bill “would make heroin and fentanyl traffickers – responsible for dealing death – eligible for good time credits that could enable them to reenter society significantly before their sentence is served.” “In the midst of the current drug epidemic crisis, we do not need more experienced drug dealers on the streets,” said the group representing 55,000 law enforcement officers.
The National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys calls the bill a “step backwards in prison policy” that “relies upon programs invalidated and unassessed by any federal entities” and that “most of what has been proposed in this bill has been tried at the state level and has failed.” They predict “crime on our nation’s streets, including drug trafficking will likely increase” after 4,000 hardened criminals are immediately released.
This bill offers roughly one-third time off for participating in programs that are already mandatory. It also allows a massive broad brush of violent criminals with few (and rare) exceptions to be eligible for good time credits for time served but also for the time they are not going to serve, allowing them to double dip. This provision, as well as others, applies to criminal aliens as well and would allow all of the American and alien heroin and fentanyl traffickers to reduce roughly 50% of their sentences! Remember, even before this bill, the pendulum of incarceration, particularly for violent drug traffickers, has already swung the other way – with the duration of sentencing being cut significantly since its peak and the number of people in federal prison plummeting.
The bill will also burden DOJ with the requirement to asses every prisoner for potential early release programs, open up numerous avenues of litigation in the liberal courts for more entitlements, and create logistical nightmares for Bureau of Prison officials with monitoring so much extra phone time and other privileges.
At a time of a growing drug epidemic, rising crime, MS-13 and sanctuary cities, an already reduced prison population, more liberal judges exonerating violent criminals, and a growing terrorist network increasingly relying on drugs for financing, this bill was crafted without a heart or a brain. And again, this is just the “first step” act. They are pushing bills that downright slash sentencing at the front end and take all of California’s experiments for juvenile murderers, which in federal prison are often MS-13 types, to the national level.
At its core, the Kochs and their allies don’t believe in law enforcement and seek to dismantle everything that has worked to miraculously drop violent crime since the early ‘90s. The same flawed ideology motivating their immigration policies is what is behind their criminal justice policies. The same drug traffickers are also committing so many other violence crimes. Besides, we are no longer talking about hippies smoking ‘60s-era pot; we are talking about WMD-grade chemical poisoning.
Trump is right to stand up to them and their agenda. For Trump to support this bill is a violation of everything he promised – bigly. It’s time conservatives wake up and understand the threat of Jared in the White House and make the Trump crime and security agenda great again.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with concerns from some of the law enforcement agencies that oppose the bill.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.