On crime: From the party of Reagan to the party of … Kim Kardashian?!

· May 31, 2018  
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Kim Kardashian
Tara Ziemba | Getty Images

For too many years, the scales of criminal justice were tilted toward protecting rights of criminals. Those in charge forgot or just plain didn’t care about protecting your rights — the rights of law-abiding citizens. ~Ronald Reagan, Feb. 18, 1984

Kim Kardashian is now the voice for drug traffickers who work with Columbian drug cartels to kill our people. Evidently, some “conservatives” think that is really cool. Where is the voice for crime victims and for law enforcement?

The truth about “low-level, nonviolent” drug traffickers

Kardashian went to the White House to discuss a potential pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, sitting in prison for 21 years so far for drug trafficking. The jailbreakers are trying to use her as a poster child for their false over-incarceration talking point, but this case in fact proves the opposite.

Johnson was the leader of a drug ring trafficking cocaine, which was one of the largest ever prosecuted in that district in Tennessee. According to the Sixth Circuit opinion, Johnson was the one who had the contacts with Colombian drug lords and trafficked thousands of kilograms of cocaine. She was not a low-level drug mule. She was likely responsible for countless deaths. We now have a crisis with fentanyl-laced cocaine, in which cocaine is the fastest-growing cause of death among drug fatalities. Guess who is the biggest cocaine dealer in Latin America working with the drug cartels? Hezbollah.

And on Johnson’s case, remember that Obama studied the federal prison population very carefully and released almost 2,000 drug traffickers (on top of the 46,000 already released over the past decade), and Johnson was not given a pardon even by Obama.

Why does everybody suddenly minimize the drug crisis when it comes to law enforcement on drug trafficking of substances causing 85 percent of drug overdoses, but when it comes to spending billions on crony and unproven drug treatment programs and regulating health care, suddenly the talking point of “it’s only drugs” goes away? Where is the libertarianism to fight Congress misdiagnosing the opioid crisis and hurting pain patients? Treating doctors like drug dealers and drug traffickers like Girl Scouts appears to be the bipartisan agenda of Washington. Which is why you can’t half-ass libertarianism.

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It is simply astounding that the president would promote jailbreak when he campaigned vigorously against this agenda. Just a few weeks ago the president said, “We’re wasting our time if we don’t get tough with drug dealers, and that toughness includes the death penalty.” Trump understands, as Reagan did, that there is violence associated with every step of drug trafficking and that by taking traffickers off the streets, we not only save thousands of lives but prevent most other crimes committed by the same networks. The miraculous decline in crime in the ’90s was just as much a result of Reagan’s crime legislation as the prosperity of the ’90s was the result of his tax and regulatory agenda.

Real facts and history vs. Kardashianism on crime

Without any cost estimate, studies, experiments, or input from the public, the House rushed through a major “First Step” in returning to the pre-Reagan era of weak-on-crime laws. A number of law enforcement groups have concerns about the feasibility of some provisions and about the number of violent drug traffickers that will be released early and/or released into an ambiguous arrangement of home confinement. Why are their concerns, based on past history and current drug and crime trends, not being heard in the White House, while the Kardashians are being entertained as if the Obama presidency never ended?

The entire premise of the need to reduce the prison population at this point rather than improve public safety makes no sense. Consider the following:

  • The prison population has already been steadily declining for a decade, especially in per capita terms. The incarceration rate is now at 1996 levels, and the percentage of adults in the U.S corrections system is lower than at any time since 1993. And it is continuing to drop.
  • There has already been a decade of leniency in the federal system. In fiscal year 2015, 62.4 percent of all drug traffickers sentenced received a sentence below that recommended in the sentencing guidelines. In FY 2016, only 44.5 percent of all drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, the lowest proportion since 1993.
  • Obama went through the system with a fine-tooth comb and released almost 2,000 drug traffickers. Do we really need to release the ones he rejected?
  • 32 percent of those in DOJ custody consists of “known or suspected” criminal aliens, and 2 percent of all federal convictions in the federal system from 2001 to 2016 were non-citizens. Let’s deport most of the criminal aliens and stop paying for other countries’ problems before we complain about incarceration costs and release more American criminals.
  • If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem. For every person who could legitimately be deemed ready to be released, there are so many more who belong in prison but are never caught or never convicted due to the growing loopholes in the criminal justice system and the liberal courts. According to the FBI, only 59.4 percent of the 15,556 murder cases, 36.5 percent of the 111,241 rape cases, and 29.6 percent of the 306,172 robbery cases in 2016 were solved or resolved in some way. Putting drug trafficking aside, there are thousands of violent criminals who are not arrested or convicted – and that is just for one year. Crime is the problem, not incarceration. Let’s focus on the problem, not the symptom.
  • Incidentally, violent crime rates, after dropping for two decades, are now going up again. In 2016, according to the FBI, violent crime rose by 4.1 percent and the murder rate spiked by 8.6 percent — the greatest single-year increase in 25 years. The crime rate per 100,000 people rose by 3.4 percent after increasing 3.3 percent in 2015. Between the two years, the homicide rate rose a whopping 20 percent. This is following the recent trend of weak-on-crime policies across the spectrum of criminal justice, culminating during Obama’s second term. I’m not suggesting there is definitive proof this is the cause of the rising crime, but with the prison population declining and crime rising – the exact opposite trend of the past two decades – shouldn’t we be more judicious and balanced before throwing out everything that has worked?
  • What about the much-vaunted Texas model, where they have implemented “criminal justice reform” now inspiring the federal legislation? After bottoming out to record lows in 2011, violent crime has increased every year, culminating with a 6.9 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. That is higher than the national average. Homicides skyrocketed by 12.2 percent in 2016 and by 30.8 percent since 2011. Rapes increased by 10.3 percent in 2016 and 31.7 percent since 2011. Robberies increased by 4.4 in 2016 and by 16.4 percent since 2011. Aggravated assaults increased by 7.7 percent in 2016. Texas passed a bunch of leniencies and instituted early release programs in 2009, 2011, and 2015. It’s quite bizarre to tout Texas as an incontrovertible success when violent crime immediately spiked and did so earlier and deeper than the national trend.

Amazingly, the weak-on-crime Koch groups focus obsessively on Texas’ recidivism rate as if it’s lower than the national average. This is why the people bandying about low recidivism rates are the ones counting only re-incarcerations, not re-arrests, as recidivism. They created an obsessive culture to avoid jail time at all costs and then tout lower incarceration rates as success. Hey, I can get recidivism down to zero by abolishing all prisons. In reality, if you look at re-arrests (and that certainly doesn’t account for all re-offenses, which is the most important measure), Texas’ recidivism rate is actually 12.5 percent higher. Reducing the incarceration rate without addressing the underlying problem of crime simply means that fewer criminals are arrested and off the streets. Why don’t these groups ever talk about reducing the crime rate? Incarceration is an effect, not a cause.

These are important points to be pondered as the jailbreak movement tirelessly promotes sweeping attacks on every facet of Reagan’s tough-on-crime agenda. Reagan’s admonishments about the need to focus on the victim and the fiscal cost of crime over incarceration are truer now than ever before with the rising crime, the unprecedented drug crisis, the radical judges whom even Reagan never envisioned, and the one-sided movement to focus on the criminal.

We need balance. There is the force of Soros and the Koch money behind groups combing through every single prison file to let out as many people as possible. Where are the people combing through the thousands of murderers never brought to justice because of loopholes in the system?

For every sob story about criminals, there are 20 sob stories of victims. Yet victims of crime don’t have Kim Kardashian speaking for them. They had Reagan speaking for them. Trump promised to be that voice. It’s time to begin fulfilling that promise.

Author: Daniel Horowitz

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