During Trump’s RNC acceptance speech, he promised to be the “law and order candidate” and a force for law enforcement and victims of crime. “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” warned Trump. But rather than following his campaign agenda, he appears to be allowing Jared Kushner to deputize Kim Kardashian West and Van Jones to roll back policies that even Obama was not willing to touch.
Kim Kardashian West has made it clear that she is just getting warmed up with her jailbreak agenda. She told NBC that she had “assembled a large legal team and was pursuing clemency for several other nonviolent offenders.” In addition, Vanity Fair reports that Jared Kushner has a new relationship with Van Jones, and they are working together on the criminal justice “reform” agenda. Of course, nobody in the media will ask Kushner or Kardashian West to have the convicts unseal their pre-sentencing reports, which would likely reveal that these people are in prison for a very good reason. These are the same reports that the U.S. Sentencing Commission read when it passed over these people for release, and Obama did as well when he released 1,700 hardened gun felons and drug traffickers but still didn’t release these people.
There is now an army of lawyers, celebrities, and activists combing through every prison file to find more people to release. But there is no balance or context. For every individual criminal who might be over-sentenced, there are dozens who are under-sentenced or not convicted at all. 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. Just in one year! Who is speaking up for the victims, and who is combing through those files to try to solve those crimes?
Make no mistake about it, this is not just about releasing the drug traffickers responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year, as well as other crimes. The phony conservative movement now inspired by Kardashian West and Van Jones has completely adopted the philosophy of the Left on incarceration.
It all begins in California. Last year, California passed SB 394, which will re-open sentencing for juveniles convicted of murder and serving life in prison without parole. Those who already served 25 years could be eligible for parole with a new hearing. Guess what? This is, in part, a provision in the sentencing bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February and likely to be the “second step” after the “first step act” back-end early releases. A big feature of the Senate bill introduced by Durbin and Grassley is leniency for those convicted of crimes as juveniles. A number of those who would be eligible for juvenile sentencing leniencies under Sec. 208 of the Senate bill are MS-13 gang members. An MS-13 member who was convicted of murder when he was 17 years old and has served 20 years in federal prison could be let out on the streets at the stroke of a pen.
Last week, Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., introduced a stand-alone bill to mandate that someone “convicted of a serious crime in federal court is given the opportunity to have the sentence reviewed by a parole board after serving 20 years.” This is about a lot more than drugs, and it began in California.
Beginning this year, California is experimenting with hearings to re-open sentencing for juvenile murderers serving life. This means people like Nathan Ramazzini, who brutally beat Erik Ingebretsen to death in Calusa, California, 21 years ago could walk the streets by 2021. Ramazzini and many others like him in California and now in federal prison will have celebrities, politicians, and the media virtue-signaling on their behalf. But who will stand for people like the family of Ingebretsen?
Emily Collins, a cousin of Erik Ingebretsen, told CR that “with each re-sentencing trial or parole hearing, the pain and anger for the family only cuts deeper.”
“Parole hearing[s] always favor the criminals,” lamented Collins. “They might get denied once, but it’s only a matter of time until they are released. Until someone puts a stop to the bills favoring criminals and start[s] protecting victims. my family knows it’s only a matter of 5-10 years until my cousin’s murder[er] is free.”
Don’t think for a minute that the sympathy and obfuscation from Hollywood elites will be limited to drug traffickers. Nathan Ramazzini is already out with a PR campaign to say he’s a changed man. This industry is bigger than any of us have realized, and Kardashian West has now gotten Trump to empower it. This will set off a revolution to focus exclusively on criminals in a vacuum without considering the victims, deterrent, rising crime rates, or spectacular failures of jailbreak.
While time will tell the results of SB 394, we already see the results of Prop 47 in California, which downgraded crimes of drug possession, theft, shoplifting, identity theft, receiving stolen property, writing bad checks, and forgery from felonies to misdemeanors. The changes were applied retroactively and, when coupled with numerous other jailbreak programs, contributed to a shrinking prison population (while the overall population grows). There has also been a five percent decline in arrests. These are much lower-level criminals than the ones Kushner and Co. want to release from federal prison, yet the law has been a disaster for the Golden State, according to new research from The Public Policy Institute in California.
The study found a “statistically significant” uptick in burglary, larceny, and auto theft in 2015 and 2016. San Francisco alone experienced over 30,000 burglaries last year. The report tries to do everything possible to whitewash the 13 percent increase in violent crime and say how the upward trend started before passage of Prop 47, but they miss the forest for the trees. Prop 47 was just one of many jailbreak programs that have been implemented over the past decade that, taken together, have undoubtedly contributed to the rise in violent crime.
And how about the property crimes? We are lectured about the cost of incarceration, but can you imagine the cost of all this property crime that often goes unrecovered by the victims?
Heather Mac Donald, a crime researcher and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote an entire chapter in her book, “War on Cops,” on how Prop 47 has resulted in a crime wave. “The PPIC study confirms what California residents and police officers have already known for several years: That backing away from law enforcement only creates more crime victims,” said an exasperated Mac Donald in an email to CR. “The decriminalization/deincarceration juggernaut is ideological, rather than empirical, however, so these latest findings will likely have no effect on deincarceration activists and academics.”
Sadly, she is right. “Criminal justice reform” has become a religion like “the two state solution” and other failed obsessions of the political and media elites who will not let facts and public safety get in the way of their perverse sense of morality.
But for those of you who signed on to this initiative 10 years ago, at a time when crime was only going down and incarceration was going up, under the assumption that this was merely a balanced approach that would address overcriminalization of ridiculous regulatory crimes, think again. It’s not too late to abandon the runaway train and do the right thing. This train is not being driven by conservative principles; it is being driven by players like Kim Kardashian West and Van Jones. And its final destination is not something we should wait to find out.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.