Rachel Alexander: New Criminal Justice Reform Law Allows Violent Felons to be Released, Not Just Non-violent Drug Dealers

If Van Jones, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kim Kardashian all agree on a bill, it’s probably not a good idea. Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the FIRST STEP Act into law this month, which will allow felons early release. It’s being touted as a criminal justice system overhaul, to let nonviolent offenders out of prison for good behavior.

But as Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who graduated from Harvard Law School, observed, “there are almost no low-level, non-violent offenders in federal prison.” If they are in prison for low-level convictions, it’s because they were allowed to plea down to a lesser charge. If they are serving a long-term sentence for a drug-related crime, it is because they have a lengthy criminal history that includes violent crime. They are serving a mandatory minimum due to their criminal history.

The law will trigger the immediate release of an estimated 4,000 federal offenders out of the 180,000 currently incarcerated. This is twice as many prisoners as those whose sentences were selectively commuted by President Obama. That number will greatly increase over time. The Bureau of Prisons and Congressional Budget Office estimates roughly 53,000 prisoners could be released over the next 10 years. That is almost one third of the prisoners in federal prison!

This misguided bill would allow violent offenders out early for merely doing what they were already  doing in prison — engage in vaguely defined “productive activities.” This includes playing softball and watching movies, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

The bill excludes some violent crimes from eligibility for early release, but not all of them. Some of the dozens of dangerous offenses that are eligible include drug-related robberies involving assault with a dangerous weapon, using a deadly weapon to assault a law-enforcement officer, assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to a spouse or child and violent carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury.

The bill gives judges more discretion to ignore mandatory minimums for criminals with prior records. How does giving activist judges more power to ignore sentencing laws and lengthy criminal histories help anything? Instead they can pretend they’re merely sentencing a felon for drug crimes, keep that fake mantra going.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Rachel Alexander