On another quiet late August day, Obama announced the commutation of 111 additional sentences of those serving time in federal prison. This brings the total commutations during Obama’s presidency to 673, dwarfing the number of clemencies from all of the past six presidents combined. Undoubtedly, there are more to come at an accelerated pace as Obama heads towards the exits of the White House.
As we’ve seen throughout the year, while Obama touts these criminals as low-level drug offenders, almost everyone in the federal system is a hardcore drug trafficker in which violent crime is a way of life. Many of the sentences were originally plead down simply because it is always easier to nail a prosecution on drug charges, even when the individual was originally arrested for armed robbery or even murder. A quick search shows that at least 16 of these individuals were convicted of firearms charges, including using a firearm in the furtherance of drug trafficking. This, at a time when Obama is trying to clamp down on law-abiding gun owners.
As Tennessee’s First District Attorney General Tony Clark recently said regarding the uptick of recidivism in eastern Tennessee resulting from the jailbreak policies:
… most of the drug dealers are armed, most of them use violence, people are killed over drugs, so to say that drug dealing, just because they’re incarcerated for a non-violent drug offense I think is a misnomer. And it’s a mistake.
Moreover, several of these commutations are for Heroin dealers. At a time when cities like Baltimore are being destroyed, Malik Abuhamid Ibm Wakil Abdunafi of Baltimore — a major Heroin dealer in the Baltimore area who was sentenced in August 2007 — will be back on the streets of Charm City.
There are also several criminals who have already had recidivism problems because their rap sheets include “ supervised release” violations. Again, you don’t wind up in federal prison for smoking a joint in college. Releasing most of those in federal prison will result in recidivism across the board. According to a report released last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 76.9% of drug offenders who were released from prison in 30 states from 2005-2010 were arrested again within five years, a quarter of them committing violent crimes. And remember, federal offenders are, on average, much worse.
Obama is attempting to give off the veneer of a judicious case-by-case review, but what he is really doing is legislating from the White House to nullify entire categories of criminal law.
What is the GOP response?
Instead of defunding any jailbreak through DOJ funding riders, Republicans are plotting to codify Obama’s jailbreak into legislation. As we reported on Friday, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise R-La. (D, 64%) and Speaker Paul Ryan R-Wisc. (F, 53%) are busy drumming up support for a major push on sentencing reductions, which will empower liberal judges to saddle us with more Willie Hortons. Next Thursday, Scalise is planning to hold a member briefing making the case to House members that this is the hill to die on for the September session.
There are two other developments in the world of criminal justice that makes the Obama/Ryan push for jailbreak even more disquieting:
It would be one thing for Congress to prospectively devolve some drug laws to the states. But to have the DOJ and the courts retroactively release so many violent criminals is a recipe for disaster and is all about jailbreak rather than federalism.
2. Prosecuting criminals is only as good as the prosecutor himself. This is why George Soros has set his sights on individual elections for district attorney positions throughout the country, pledging at least $3 million to elect pro-criminal prosecutors. According to recently leaked documents from WikiLeaks, Soros has made it clear that his new issue cause célèbre is the release of tens of thousands of criminals, even violent criminals.
Although the president was granted broad authority to pardon criminals, it was not intended as an end-run around congressional statutes to completely overturn a category of the criminal code. Moreover, as Alexander Hamilton observes in Federalist #74, placing such consequential power in the hands of one man “would naturally inspire scrupulousness and caution; the dread of being accused of weakness or connivance, would beget equal circumspection.” Sadly, in our post-constitutional society, with an obsequious media and an impotent Republican opposition, Obama feels no such dread and will not exercise any caution or circumspection.
That Republicans would take Obama and Soros’s #1 priority and adopt it as their own at such a critical time in the fight for ordered liberty is beyond comprehension.
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Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.