On Thursday, Politico let the cat out of the bag regarding the ultimate goal of the “criminal justice reform” movement. This is not about declining to lock up nonviolent people for petty crimes. We actually release and often fail to convict violent criminals. This is about abolishing the entire concept of prison and its deterrent of crime.
Last week, over 100 people dropped like flies in New Haven, Connecticut, after overdosing on K2 synthetic marijuana that was laced with fentanyl. This has been a growing problem for several years: The sale of fake marijuana packaged as candy but laced with rat poison. The proceeds have been tracked back to Yemen. Now, it appears that other drug traffickers are understanding how easy it is to spray these leaves with all sorts of chemicals. The individual who was arrested, Felix Melendez, had been previously arrested for possessing K2 in February but was out on the streets on probation despite four prior felonies, according to the Hartford Courant.
This is exactly the type of person who is already getting leniency in the state system, and this is exactly the type of person Chuck Grassley, Jared Kushner, and the gang of jailbreak want released from federal prison. They built an entire movement on a false premise that we are somehow locking up onetime nonviolent offenders for simple possession, when in fact we are not prosecuting and are even releasing countless dangerous drug traffickers who are killing many, many people.
This is an epidemic we’ve never seen before. It’s no longer a recreational drug issue, but a poison issue that affects national security. Yet these people believe we are not being lenient enough on the drug traffickers at a time when they are killing more people than ever.
The gang of jailbreak in Washington sold their back-end early release bill as simply “prison reform” and promised they wouldn’t add on front-end sentencing reductions. Now they are planning to add some provisions from the sentencing bill that will create a cascade of leniencies for top-level heroin and fentanyl traffickers, MS-13 gang members, and career firearm felons. And these are just the counts they are convicted of. Many, particularly in the federal system, often have a career of violent crime leading up to these convictions.
The schizophrenic approach of this administration to the drug trafficking and national poisoning crisis is incomprehensible. On the one hand, the president has been railing against drug traffickers and jailbreak legislation his entire life and particularly during the campaign. He still calls for the death penalty for top-level traffickers. The White House sent out an email on Wednesday lauding its “zero-tolerance policy toward synthetic opioid trafficking” and talking about punishing fentanyl distributors. Yet Jared Kushner and much of his Koch-pushed legislative affairs shop is promoting a bill that will dramatically cut front-end and back-end prison time for these very “animals” the president decries.
The new legislation, still being drafted, will combine the worst elements of the back-end jailbreak “First Step Act” and the front-end sentencing reductions of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s bill. Under this proposal, when sentencing reduction, good time credits, and early release are factored in, a repeat fentanyl trafficker responsible for countless deaths would have a 20-year sentence reduced to seven years. And remember, most people are already escaping the mandatories under current law. In fiscal year 2016, only 44.5 percent of all drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, the lowest proportion since 1993. In FY 2017, just 35 percent of all drug traffickers were sentenced at or below the guidelines.
The reality is that the pendulum has already swung the other way in states and even in the federal system. We are already not locking up enough drug traffickers, never mind the ones who commit murder, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. Our criminal justice system is a sieve, and everyone knows it. Fewer than 45 percent of violent crimes are ever solved, and even fewer result in a conviction.
Chuck Grassley himself made this case several years ago when the drug crisis and trend of violent crime wasn’t nearly as bad. The drug crisis is born out of open borders inviting in the Central American gangs, sanctuary cities, and the decade-long reversal of the trend of incarcerating drug traffickers.
Now, this legislation will exacerbate all of these factors, because the federal prison population for drug trafficking is primarily the result of immigration policies. Most of the drugs come into the country through Mexican drug cartels. This is why 41.7 percent of all offenders in the federal system this year are non-citizens. If you are concerned about drug trafficking, crime, and the cost of incarceration on the federal level, the 800-pound gorilla in the room in immigration. Many of these are violent criminal aliens who are in the federal system because they plead down to immigration charges or drug trafficking (which is inherently violent). Rather than first getting tough on immigration and then seeing if we have a problem with too many people in the federal system, this bill will release many criminal aliens into home confinement.
If the president ultimately signs on to this bill, it will be an epic betrayal of his campaign promises on crime, drugs, and immigration – all three issues interconnected.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.