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Mass Sentencing Reduction Reportedly Still Dead

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The New York Times carries this story:

A major criminal-justice overhaul bill seemed destined to be the bipartisan success story of the year, consensus legislation that showed lawmakers could still rise above politics.

Then the election, Donald J. Trump's demand for "law and order" and a series of other political calculations got in the way.

Senate Republicans divided on the wisdom of reducing federal mandatory minimum sentences. Other Republicans, unhappy that President Obama was reducing hundreds of federal prison sentences on his own, did not want to give him a legacy victory. A surge in crime in some urban areas gave opponents of the legislation a new argument.

Now, the Senate authors of the legislation say it is effectively dead.

"I do believe it is over," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No .2 Democrat in the Senate, who put considerable effort into difficult negotiations with Republicans to strike a compromise. "We missed an opportunity."

I agree with Senator Durbin that the Senate missed an opportunity  --  an opportunity to multiply the Wendell Callahan scandal and endanger the country.

As usual with the NYT, the story needs some, shall we say, clarification.

First, as the Times backhandedly admits in its third paragraph, mass sentencing reduction did not have the backing of both parties.  It had the backing of almost the entire Democratic caucus, yes, but only a minority of the Republicans.  I strongly suspect the Times knows this but decided to omit it.

Second, passing this bill would not "rise above politics."  It would be surrendering to an erroneous (and highly political, if a point be made of it) view that minimizes the benefits of incapacitating criminals, blinks the realities of recidivism, and swallows the erroneous narrative that dealers in hard drugs are victims rather than victimizers.

Third, opposition to this bill started well before the election season, before the President began his commutation binge, and before it became clear that violent crime is surging across the country (much of it fueled by the drug trade).  I alone probably put up a hundred anti-sentencing reform posts, or more, before any of this happened.  

Fourth, it has zip to do with Obama's "legacy."  It has to do with protecting us from what we know, given more than 50 years' experience, is going to happen when we soft-peddle incarceration, embrace "rehabilitation" that seldom actually occurs, and give naive or partisan judges greater license discretion.  And we knew this before Mr. Obama so much as announced he was running for President.

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