Tom Cotton urges colleagues to oppose sentencing leniency legislaton

Barack Obama’s presidency has been hugely consequential. Think of Obamacare, the great Middle East retreat, the Iran nuclear deal, and the executive amnesty (don’t think of the farcical Paris climate change deal).

Obama still hopes to empty Gitmo, but the accomplishment he most craves involves springing a different set of prisoners — major drug felons.

Obama has important allies in this quest, namely a goodly number of Senate Republicans — notably Senators Grassley, Cornyn, and Lee — and important financial contributors to Republican campaigns. Although their vehicle, the reckless and misguided Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, didn’t make it to the Senate or House floor this year, the push for consideration will begin in early 2016.

Senator Jeff Sessions has led the fight against the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. Now, Senator Tom Cotton weighs in. He has sent a Dear Colleague letter that highlights the deficiencies of this unfortunate legislation. The letter includes as an attachment a letter from former high-level law enforcement officers, including former Attorneys General Ashcroft and Barr, and Rudy Giuliani.

In addition to Tom, the letter is signed by Senators Sessions, Hatch, Vitter, and Perdue, each of whom courageously resisted the leniency legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here is the text of their letter (a link to its attachment appears above):

We want to provide a copy of a recent letter from 40 former senior federal law enforcement officials, including two former Attorneys General, five former DEA Administrators, and seven former Assistant Directors of the FBI in opposition to S. 2133, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.

In their letter, the law enforcement officials spell out in detail important concerns with S. 2123, including that it will:

reduce penalties for armed career criminals, reduce penalties for serial armed violent criminals (like carjackers, bank robbers, and kidnappers), reduce penalties for repeat high-level drug traffickers and weaken the tools used by federal prosecutors to dismantle drug trafficking organizations. Worse, the bill will apply those changes retroactively to thousands of armed career criminals, serial armed violent offenders and repeat drug traffickers already in prison, making them eligible for early release.

These concerns are shared by major professional organizations representing federal and other law enforcement officers and personnel that oppose S 2123, including the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the FBI Agents Association, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, and the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition. We would also note that the National Organization for Victim Assistance opposes this bill.

We encourage you to read this letter in its entirety and carefully consider the concerns of those who serve and have served on the front lines of our criminal justice system. Should you have any questions about these matters, please do not hesitate to contact our offices. As the officials note in their letter, “[n]ow is not the time to deny law enforcement authorities the essential tools they need to fight crime and terrorism here at time.”

Once again, Senator Cotton is leading the charge against pet left-wing policies that would make our nation less safe. This time, he’s forced to rally Republican Senators who should know better, which makes his stand all the more noteworthy and commendable.


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