Team leniency — the folks who favor shorter sentences for federal drug felons and favor letting federal felons of all stripes out of jail before their sentences have been fully served — promised it would push for such legislation as soon as the elections were over. They have kept this promise by renewing the drive to enact FIRST STEP legislation.
Whether leniency legislation is enacted ultimately depends, I think, on whether President Trump wants it. Trump, in turn, may be influenced by the views of major law enforcement groups.
Team leniency won a victory when it persuaded the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to endorse FIRST STEP. As I explained here, it accomplished this by making claims about the legislation that are untrue. It sold the FOP a bill of goods.
Fortunately, other major organizations have expressed strong opposition to FIRST STEP. The Free Beacon reports:
Leaders of four law enforcement groups slammed the latest version of Senate criminal justice legislation in a Tuesday letter to lawmakers obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Representatives of the Association of Federal Narcotics Agents, the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition cosigned a letter in which they strenuously objected to the latest version of the FIRST STEP Act.
The letter is here.
Two other organizations, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America, submitted a letter critical of of the leniency legislation last week. That letter, addressed to Jared Kushner, is here.
Power Line readers know my objections to FIRST STEP. There’s no need to rehearse them in this post.
However, one aspect of FIRST STEP that I haven’t discussed is a provision that permits judges to waive mandatory minimums altogether for many drug offenders.
This provision means that left-liberal judges, including a great many Obama-appointees, will be able to put dangerous federal felons back on the street much earlier than is allowed now, and than would be allowed even under the new regime of reduced minimums.
It was the leniency of liberal federal judges that helped produce the crime wave of the 1970s and 1980s, to which mandatory minimums were a response. Can we expect the current federal judiciary to be tougher on crime and less sympathetic to sob stories by felons than the judiciary of 30 to 40 years ago?
I don’t think so. Not with all those Obama appointees on the bench. Not with “the criminal justice system is racist” narrative all the rage.
FIRST STEP is a step towards the return of the bad old days of sky-high crime rates. No wonder major law enforcement organizations are resisting the full court press, spearheaded by the Jared Kushner and the Koch Brothers, to take this huge step backwards.