Recently in Sentencing Category
Crime has become the biggest problem in Washington, D.C. residents say, far surpassing concerns about the economy and the quality of public schools for the first time in almost a decade, according to a new Washington Post poll.
After a year in which homicides have spiked, fewer D.C. residents said their neighborhood is safe, the poll found. Following high-profile attacks that have rattled neighborhoods from Chevy Chase in upper Northwest to Anacostia in Southeast, 1 in 4 respondents said they feel "not too" or "not at all" safe in their communities, up from less than 1 in 5 in 2011. More than 1 in 3 said crime is the biggest problem facing the city, up from 12 percent four years ago.
The concern comes as the nation's cities have seen homicide rates reverse after more than two decades of steady declines.
This same thing is happening from coast to coast. For the first time in a generation, crime is spiking. So here's the bottom line question: Is this the moment Congress will choose to go easier on those -- largely drug pushers -- doing the spiking? Is Congress really that obtuse? That uncaring? That hoodwinked or bullied by billionaire money pushing the Obama/Sharpton "America-is-too-mean" agenda?
As Congress considers the SRCA, we may soon find out.
But the statements ... also reflect a basic misunderstanding of the data on prison populations. We've listed the statements in order, from the least egregious to the most outlandish, to demonstrate how -- almost like a game of telephone -- the facts get increasingly unmoored from the actual data. It's a complex issue, which leads itself to facile explanations.
[W]hile the [percentage of those who re-offend after early release is] small - and a recent study shows they re-offend at the same rate as those who served their full terms, about 45 percent -- it only takes one example for a 30-second campaign ad. [Steve Cook, President of NAAUSA] said they've already found a case in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a former federal inmate would have been in jail on the day he killed a man in 2011, if not for a sped-up release.
"When criminals are in custody, they're not victimizing the good and honest citizens in our community," Cook said. "When they're out on the street, they are."
Those types of arguments are "so old school," said [Holly] Harris [of the U.S. Justice Action Network]. "It just sounds old and dated and just so out of tune with where we are in society."
Translation: "Where we are in society = "deep-sixing inconvenient facts in 'fact-based sentencing'."
McCarthy's article is a goldmine about how the federal criminal justice system works on the inside, and well worth your read. Sentencing reform is getting as far as it is only because the public has no idea about how many breaks for criminals are already built into the system, though hidden from view.
Mandatory minimum sentences and strict sentencing guidelines for serious offenses were enacted precisely because judges, often in collusion with prosecutors [Ed. note: and virtually always at the urging of defense counsel], were systematically releasing serious offenders, allowing them to continue preying on society. While the "man-mins" and guidelines helped dramatically reduce crime, the left-leaning legal profession agitated against them. One result is "fact" pleading -- the sort of shenanigans that we see in the Hastert case: a willfully false rendition of the facts in order to sidestep sentencing enhancements required by law.
That is what sentencing "reform" has in store for us. The proposals may call for careful judicial fact finding before a felon is released. But the law already calls for careful judicial fact finding when the felon is sentenced. What we frequently get, instead, is careful judicial evasion -- often aided and abetted, it must be noted, by the Justice Department. It may be that careful fact finding would result in the release of some prisoners who should be released; but the breed of "fact" finding we are apt to get from sentencing "reform" will result in the mass release of incorrigible, violent criminals.
Before Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) electrified conservatives with his denunciation of liberal media bias at the GOP presidential debate last week, he took a little-noticed position on a major crime bill before the Senate that set him apart from the politically powerful Koch brothers. Taking the side of law-and-order conservatives on an issue that could emerge as a major focus of the 2016 presidential campaign, Cruz came out against the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) on the grounds that the legislation, which will retroactively reduce the sentences of thousands of federal prison inmates, could lead to the release of violent criminals, some convicted of using weapons while engaged in other crimes. He said the Senate bill would release "illegal aliens with criminal convictions" when a "major crime wave" is already sweeping the nation.Strong supporters of the Bill of Rights? Since when does supporting the Bill of Rights require supporting badly written, ill-conceived legislation that goes much too far in bringing back the evils that the 1984 sentencing reform was enacted to correct? See CJLF's analysis of S. 2123.
In an extraordinary development, the Koch brothers decided to publicly go after Cruz. Echoing the views of the libertarian billionaires, whose network of conservative advocacy groups was planning to spend $889 million on the 2016 campaign, Mark Holden, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Koch Industries, Inc., issued a statement denouncing the Texas senator by name. He said, "We are disappointed that some members, including Senator Cruz, who have supported the need for reform and been strong supporters of the Bill of Rights, did not support this bill."
About 6,000 drug offenders will be released from federal custody over the next few days, but some legal experts warn that the government has done too little to help many of them successfully reintegrate into society.
[Contrary to President] Obama, the state prison population (which accounts for 87 percent of the nation's prisoners) is dominated by violent criminals and serial thieves. In 2013, drug offenders made up less than 16 percent of the state prison population, whereas violent felons were 54 percent of the rolls and property offenders, 19 percent. (See graph below.) Reducing drug admissions to 15 large state penitentiaries by half would lower those states' prison count by only 7 percent, according to the Urban Institute.
FBI Director James Comey has made two recent speeches where he warns us there is an emerging trend of police officers standing down or demonstrating reluctance to engage criminals because they are worried about sparking a situation similar to the riots in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. Comey's comments do not fit the Obama administration's narrative on crime, and drew criticism from civil rights activists, law enforcement unions and the White House. Well, what do these groups have in common? That's easy -- they're almost all Democrats, and they may be going down a slippery slope of promoting policies that have the effect of being pro-crime and anti-gun at the same time. Calling Democrats "pro-crime" may sound a tad harsh, but if you are for inhibiting police activity, causing fewer arrests and making mass releases from prison, what else would you call it? The politics of this issue are not fully formed, but if the Democrats don't watch it, they run the risk of being the "pro-crime" party in the United States. The FBI director's observations serve as another reminder that crime is growing as an important issue in the 2016 elections.