Sentencing Reform

The tragic reality of sentencing reform

Featured image Steve Cook is president of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys. He has been a key figure in the fight against softer sentencing for federal drug felons and the early release of such felons. Writing in LifeZette, Steve explains why the sentencing reform legislation being pushed in Congress would have tragic consequences for innocent Americans. He writes: Not all crimes are preventable — but some are. The serious »

No jailbreak legislation this year

Featured image The bipartisan jailbreak legislation — known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — is dead in this session of Congress. Sens. Dick Durbin and John Cornyn, key backers of the Act, have basically conceded defeat. Cornyn said he had hoped the House would move more quickly and provide momentum for the legislation in the Senate. But, he added, “apparently we ran out of time.” In reality, the demise of »

Weldon Angelos finally released from prison; why did Obama leave him there so long?

Featured image Weldon Angelos was the poster prisoner for opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing and those who want the minimums reduced. And for good reason. Angelos was unjustly sentenced under the mandatory minimums to 55 years in prison after being convicted for selling marijuana. Are there other instances of unjust sentences under the minimums? Almost certainly. Yet, advocates of sentencing leniency seem hard-pressed to find them. Of the cases cited in the »

Crime as an issue in 2016

Featured image Bill Otis wonders whether crime will be a significant issue in the 2016 presidential election. It could. Although the crime rate remains low compared to what it was in the days when crime policy was a major issue (and a winning one for Republicans), crime has spiked in many cities and drug addiction has soared. Moreover, the two presidential candidates set the issue up nicely. Donald Trump is a tough »

Nationwide crime wave confirms the Ferguson effect

Featured image Heather Mac Donald, writing in the Wall Street Journal, describes the crime wave that is sweeping the nation, and attributes much of it to the Ferguson effect. She notes that even some who initially denied the Ferguson effect now admit that the phenomenon is real. Mac Donald points to Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who was an early and influential critic of the Ferguson »

Sen. Tom Cotton on Crime and Justice in America

Featured image Senator Tom Cotton delivered an important address today at the Hudson Institute on crime and justice in America. Cotton said he believes that the criminal-leniency bill in the Senate — which would, among other things, lead to the release of many thousands of federal drug felons from prison — is dead in this year’s Congress. What the Senator didn’t say is that he deserves much of the credit for rallying »

Tom Cotton on the revised leniency for drug felons bill

Featured image Senator Tom Cotton was instrumental in rallying Republican Senators against the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act late last year when momentum seemed to augur its passage. Thanks in large measure to the efforts of Senator Jeff Session and Senator Cotton, the bill was stopped in its tracks. Now Team Leniency for Drug Felons is trying again, with a revised version of the legislation. Relying on a lengthy analysis by Sen. »

In new push for releasing drug felons, consider the sources

Featured image Team Leniency for Drug Felons, the bipartisan group of Senators that wants, among other things, to let thousands of federal drug felons out of jail, is making another run at its vision of “sentencing reform.” Senators Grassley, Durbin, Cornyn, Leahy, Lee, Whitehouse, Graham, Booker, Scott, and Schumer will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce new provisions to the legislation proposed last October. They will also showcase new cosponsors. Mark »

More evidence of our under-incarceration problem

Featured image I’ve argued that America has an under-incarceration problem. Criminals whose records clearly show they should be in jail have, instead, been released and are on the streets committing violent crimes, including some very bloody, high-profile ones. Here’s another example. Samuel Harviley, paroled from prison less than three months ago, is being held without bond for shooting an off-duty Chicago police officer outside his home earlier this week. In withholding bond, »

Obama commutes more sentences for drug dealers, including some with firearms offenses

Featured image Yesterday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 61 drug offenders. Here is a list of the 61. I have three observations. First, Obama did not commute the sentence of Weldon Angelos, the poster child (and rightly so) of the sentencing leniency movement. Angelos was sentenced to 55 years in prison for selling marijuana. The sentencing judge, conservative Paul Cassell, followed the sentencing guidelines. He has called the sentence the must »

What happened to John Cornyn?

Featured image Thanks in no small part to the efforts of Sen. Tom Cotton, the bipartisan congressional effort to reduce the mandatory minimum sentences for certain federal drug felonies, and to release many drug felons from jail, is on hold in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for what Politico calls “a breather of sorts on the bill,” so that Republican Senators can examine the issue more closely. Sen. John »

Let’s hear it for the “hawkish upstart”

Featured image There isn’t much in the current political scene that brings a smile to my face, but the opening paragraph in this Politico article did: Sen. Tom Cotton, the hawkish upstart who’s already made waves railing against the Iran nuclear deal and government surveillance programs, is now leading a new rebellion against a bipartisan effort to overhaul the criminal justice system — hoping to torpedo one of the few pieces of »

Sentencing reform: a warning from Gun Owners of America

Featured image Hoping to provide cover for legislation that shortens sentences for many federal drug felons (i.e. dealers) and releases many of them early, Team Leniency — Sens. Mike Lee, Dick Durbin and company — touted the fact that their bill increases some mandatory minimum sentences. This is true. For example, it increases sentences for possession of certain firearms. That’s the main reason why the Gun Owners of America opposes the Sentencing »

Shooting of Phillie cop confirms our under-incarceration problem

Featured image Leftists, and some conservatives, like to talk about over-incarceration in America. But many of the high-profile horrific crimes we read about suggest that we have an under-incarceration problem (in theory, it’s possible we could have both). The latest such crime is the attempted assassination of Philadelphia police officer Jesse Hartnett. A few days ago, he was ambushed in his patrol car and shot at more than a dozen times. Though »

The myth of over-incarceration

Featured image 2016 could be a banner year for drug dealers. If the “sentencing reform” tag team of Mike Lee and Dick Durbin gets its way, and it very well might, thousands of drug dealers will be let out of prison and tens of thousands will be facing shorter sentences if apprehended and convicted. Behind the push for leniency is the notion that America — aka “incarceration nation” — has sinned. We »

The implication of Obama’s latest clemency fest

Featured image Whenever Senator Mike Lee, or some other Leniency for Drug Dealers stalwart, defends his sentencing reform legislation, he points to the case of one or two drug felons who received a sentence that seems unduly harsh. Such cases aren’t impossible to find. But invoking them raises an obvious question and then a more subtle one. The obvious question is: if this sentence is egregious, why hasn’t President Obama commuted it? »

FBI Director Comey: Prisoner releases will mean more crime

Featured image Back in October when the Senate Judiciary Committee held its one-afternoon hearing on the landmark Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, I wrote: There was an interesting exchange regarding where FBI Director James Comey. . .stands on this bill. During her testimony, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates seemed a little cagey on this subject. So Al Franken asked her flat out where Comey stands. . . . Yates answered »