Having empowered Iran’s criminal regime and all but ensured its long-term survival, President Obama is turning his attention to doing what he can for American criminals. In one day this week, he commuted the sentences of 46 criminals, the most presidential commutations in a single day since at least the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, according to the White House.
The president also took time to write a personal letter to each of the 46 criminals. He has not, however, contacted the family of Kathryn Steinle who was murdered in San Francisco by an illegal alien and convicted felon who was released from prison earlier this year.
Obama has already commuted more sentences than Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush combined. And he is only getting started, as Daniel Horowitz notes in a perceptive article.
More importantly, Obama is doing all he can to persuade Americans that our criminal justice system is illegitimate. That system is “broken,” Obama insists. The way to fix it, he asserts, is through softer sentencing and earlier release for convicted felons, mostly (so far) dealers in hard drugs.
Bill Otis demonstrates that (1) the criminal justice system, far from being broken, is a contemporary American success story and (2) Obama’s prescription for “fixing” the system would lead to a significant increase in crime.
Bill reminds us that since America implemented the tough sentencing regime about which Obama complains, the crime rate has fallen by one-half. Today, we have more than five million fewer serious crimes in this country per year than we did a generation ago, and more than ten thousand fewer murders per year. Serious sentencing is a key part of this success story, together with more police and more aggressive policing — programs Obama and his allies also oppose.
What would happen if we were to reverse course by reducing prison sentences and granting early release, as Obama desires? Crime would soar. This is clear from the administration’s own statistics on recidivism. Bill cites a comprehensive study by the Department of Justice. It found:
An estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison, and three-quarters (77 percent) were arrested within five years. . . .
More than a third (37 percent) of prisoners who were arrested within five years of release were arrested within the first six months after release, with more than half (57 percent) arrested by the end of the first year.
The arrest rate for drug offenders within five years of release was 77 percent — the same as the rate for released criminals as a whole.
There’s no mystery as to why Obama wants to release criminals. For him, as Bill explains, incarcerated criminals are “the other” — the downtrodden, the “marginalized,” society’s victims. As a leftist, Obama sympathizes, and indeed wants to associate himself, with them. He has even said he might have been one of them.
(Obama also views Iran as the aggrieved “other.” During a debate with Hillary Clinton, he argued that we need to negotiate with the mullahs without preconditions because of the way America has mistreated Iran in the past. Now, he has released Iran from the prison of sanctions, hoping that it will gradually become a respectable member of the community of nations. He likely will find that Iran is a recidivist sponsor of terrorism.)
The mystery is why so many Republicans, including some “establishment” figures, are sympathetic to Obama’s criminal justice “reform” agenda. Is it the influence of the Koch brother? As Horowitz says, “there are some legitimate issues [with the criminal justice system] that need to be addressed, but the way some of these Republicans are pursuing the issue will only facilitate Obama’s dangerous dismantling of law enforcement and will only embolden him to expand his policy of clemency.”
Obama is hell-bent on undoing two decades of gains against violent and high-level crime. It will be scandalous if Republicans become his allies in this ideologically-motivated quest.