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Covering Up the Wendell Callahan Sentencing Reform Scandal

It's no news to readers of this blog that sentencing reform will create costs its backers prefer to conceal.  The most prominent recent example is the Wendell Callahan case.  Callahan, a crack cocaine dealer, was given retroactive benefit of a sentencing reductions bill Congress passed in 2010.  He went on to commit triple murder. This is notwithstanding that we were loudly promised then  --  as we are now  --  that the release of such inmates would be limited to "low level, non-violent" offenders.

This is simply false.  Some of the leading thinkers in the "reform" movement have openly acknowledged that, to achieve any significant reduction in the prison population, sentence reduction cannot be limited to merely the non-violent offender. Thus their actual commitment to today's limiting promise is suspect from the getgo; their ideology all but requires them to bend the rules on the definition of "non-violent."

Even on the tenuous assumption that "reformers" are sincere in their promise, however, they can't and won't deliver on it.  They know  --  indeed, in closely related contexts, they insist  --  that the system is rife with error.  As they quite correctly maintain, error is inevitable in every human enterprise.  Mistakes are going to be made. Callahan was not the first example and he won't be the last.  When asked specifically how many similar grotesque mistakes we can expect (or should tolerate), however, "reformers" simply refuse to answer.

In other words, they expect us to buy their package without ever telling us either exactly what's inside or what it's going to cost. 

Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It doesn't to the New York Times, which has twisted itself into a pretzel to keep the Callahan case covered up.
Thus, about a week ago, the Times wrote an article about the difficulties the SRCA is encountering in Congress. You will not be surprised to learn that the source is Bad People like Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. I thought this paragraph particularly revealing:

Before the death of Antonin Scalia in February created a Supreme Court vacancy, the criminal justice measure had already run into trouble from skeptical Senate Republicans, notably Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He contended that the proposed sentencing changes would result in the premature release of violent felons. And there were whispers about Willie Horton, the furloughed inmate who committed a rape while on release from a state prison in Massachusetts, a case that Republicans used in 1988 to portray Michael S. Dukakis, then the state's governor and the Democratic nominee for president, as soft on crime.

The Times' rendition is a hoot, both for what it includes and what it omits.

It includes the obligatory but ancient reference to Willie Horton, who hasn't been in the news since before Janet Reno was Attorney General, but who remains code in liberal circles for Republican Campaign Sleaze.

It omits what Sen. Cotton was actually talking about, to wit, the Callahan triple murder that was enabled by a more modest version of sentencing reform than the Times backs now.  Indeed, my Google search tells me that the NYT has not said a single word about Wendell Callahan.  (My computer research skills aren't that good, so I will stand to be corrected by readers if I have that wrong). 

In this it is hardly alone.  I've also been looking for even a slight reference to the Callahan sentencing reform scandal in any national media, and coming up empty. Some local affiliates of the national outlets had it, but there is not even one news story I can find from the national news headquarters of ABC, CBS, MSNBC, or CNN; or any of the big papers like the Times, the LAT, the Boston Globe, or Christian Science Monitor.

(Meanwhile, if a school security officer forcibly removes an unruly student from a classroom, the story is not merely covered but trumpeted on essentially all the national media).

But there is one more hoot in the New York Times paragraph above.  Note that it refers to "whispers" about Willie Horton, as if Sen. Cotton and other opponents of mass sentencing reduction were ashamed to speak their arguments out loud.

My goodness.  This must set some kind of slime record.

It is the Times itself that won't whisper  --  indeed, won't even mention  --  the case actually at hand, that of sentencing-reform-poster-boy-cum-multiple-child-killer Wendell Callahan.

Note to NYT and others who find sentencing-reform-enabled child murder worth only casual dismissal (or simply silence):  We're not "whispering" about Callahan.  We're discussing him, what he means about the true costs of sentencing "reform," what he tells us about reformers' dishonest sales pitch, and what he shows about their bored attitude toward the hundreds or thousands of future crime victims to be mentioned only on the obituary page, if even there.

We had a big national conversation about a police officer, Darren Wilson, who tragically, but in self-defense, ended one black life.in Ferguson, Mo.  It's time to quit the cover-up and have another national conversation about a sentencing reform beneficiary, Wendell Callahan, who ended three black lives in a predictable rage, but was deceitfully passed off by a "reformed" sentencing scheme as "non-violent."

Who will be the next such "non-violent" drug pusher released early?  How many will be put out on the street? Who will be their victims?  More women?  More children? More minorities?  In what numbers?

We're relentlessly told it's time for that "national conversation."  Fine.  Let's have one. Specifically, let's hear some answers for once, not the continuing silence of the Wendell Callahan cover-up. 

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