<< Deportation and "Aggravated" Felonies | Main | News Scan >>

A Change in the Weather

For years, advocates of sentencing "reform"  --  the misleading name given proposals for mass sentencing reduction and expanded judicial license  --  have been playing offense. They've played it unsuccessfully but enthusiastically, as they saw their proposals (the Justice Safety Valve Act, the Smarter Sentencing Act, and the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act) meet an ignominious fate, failing even to reach the floor of either chamber notwithstanding their backing by some prominent Republicans, including, notably, Senate Deputy Majority Leader John Cornyn of Texas.

They have continued to pretend that sentencing "reform" is on the upswing  --  until, that is, reality popped up.  Seeing the startling rise in violent crime, now in its 30th month, and the election of Donald Trump on a "Make America Safe Again" platform, some in Congress have now taken a different path, as noted in this article, "GOP pushes new minimum sentencing laws."  The bill's primary sponsor is none other than Sen. Cornyn.

We welcome Sen. Cornyn to the side of this debate that favors protecting the safety of normal people to the granting of favors to, in large part, drug pushers who made their own choices.
The start of the article reads:

The debate over criminal justice reform has taken a head-spinning turn on Capitol Hill.

After months of debate over whether to curb mandatory minimum prison sentences, Republicans are now going in the opposite direction.

A new border security bill includes mandatory minimum sentences for certain immigrants who try to re-enter the country after they've already been deported and for people convicted of violent crimes against judges and police officers.

The Hill reviewed a draft copy of the legislation, which is still being hammered out by Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

The legislation includes "Kate's law," a measure named for Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old woman killed in 2015 by a felon who had been deported but returned to the United States. The law effectively creates a three-strike rule. Immigrants with prior aggravated felony convictions or two prior convictions for illegal re-entry would get a mandatory 5-year sentence.

President Trump repeatedly talked about Steinle during his presidential campaign as he backed policies cracking down on legal and illegal immigration.

The legislation also incorporates Cornyn's Back the Blue Act, which creates a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence for killing a judge or federal law enforcement officer; a 10-year minimum for assault if the judge or law enforcement officer is seriously injured; a 20-year mandatory minimum if a deadly or dangerous weapon was used in the assault; and a 10-year minimum for fleeing after killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a judge or law enforcement office.

I have to tip my hat to the tenacity of my pals on the sentencing "reform" side of this debate, but tenacity, admirable though it certainly is, is no match for reality.

The time for sentencing "reform" came and went.  Its peak, by my estimate, was about 18 months ago.  But when the shocking rise in murder in this country became evident, and could no longer be either obscured by the press or dismissed as a statistical fluke, the Happy Face complacency upon which sentencing "reform" depends hit the skids.

As we now see, it has gone in reverse.

We may well get sentencing reform, just not the kind the criminals-are-victims contingent was planning on.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives