Sentencing Reform

Last year in murder

Featured image In 2019, Washington, D.C. had its highest number of homicides in a decade. The Washington Post, quoting unnamed city authorities, attributes the spike to “a proliferation of the use of firearms to resolve disputes.” This “proliferation” wasn’t confined to Washington. In neighboring Prince Georges County, Maryland, homicides increased by 20 percent. Nearby Baltimore, where murder has been on the upsurge since its police force was demonized by the left and »

Our under-incarceration problem, anti-Semitism edition

Featured image Grafton Thomas is the anti-Semite who is being held for assaulting with a knife a crowd of Jews in a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration. I don’t blame the Democratic Party for Thomas’s anti-Semitism or for his decision to assault Jews. However, I do blame Democrats, and some Republicans, for the criminal justice policies that enabled Thomas to be able to act on his violent anti-Semitism outside of prison »

Our under-incarceration problem, Tennessee edition

Featured image When I read about a high profile murder, I often check the background of the accused killer. Almost invariably, if the killer is an adult, I find that he has a criminal record such that, in a properly functioning justice system, he would be in prison. Last week, in Nashville, a man murdered Clayton Beathard and Paul Trapeni. Beathard is the brother of C.J. Beathard, a quarterback for the San »

Jailbreak in Red States

Featured image Daniel Horowitz asks: “Who needs George Soros when you have Republicans. . .enacting his number one agenda item – de-incarceration?” Horowitz’s case in point is Oklahoma: The Koch-funded “conservative” organizations have convinced Oklahoma Republicans to embark on a one-sided mission of prison release rather than stemming the tide of growing crime. They have made them feel guilty about having the highest incarceration rate of any state. Yet rather than identifying »

The New York Mets’ appeal tested

Featured image Al Pacino once starred with Ellen Barkin in an underrated movie called “Sea of Love.” Pacino played a New York City cop. Early in the film, Pacino organizes a sting to capture dozens of New York City’s most wanted criminals. He has them invited to a special meet and greet with the New York Yankees. Suspecting nothing, the crooks and thugs arrive. They are duly taken into custody. Bill de »

Study puts standard narrative on opioid crisis in doubt

Featured image Pharmaceutical companies are taking the blame for the opioid epidemic in America. We’ve all heard the narrative: Americans become addicted to pills prescribed by irresponsible doctors and peddled by unscrupulous drug companies. Many die of an overdose. There’s no denying that this occurs. However, a new study from Massachusetts strongly suggests that it is not the main reason for the opioid epidemic. The study found: Prescription opioids were detected in »

First Step Act beneficiary wanted for murder

Featured image It was bound to happen, and sooner rather than later. Joel Francisco, dubbed by authorities the crown prince of the Almighty Latin Kings gang, was released from prison thanks to the First Step Act. Now, he is now wanted for murder. Francisco was sentenced in 2005 to life imprisonment for trafficking in crack cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced sentences for this crime, but not retroactively. The First »

The real world consequences of “jailbreak” policies and practices

Featured image The “jailbreak” crowd, which includes far too many conservatives, likes to point to Texas as providing powerful evidence for the merit of releasing felons from prison early. Indeed, the usually sensible Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was a leader of the federal push for lenient sentencing. In support of his position, he liked to cite the Texas experience. That experience didn’t work well this weekend for Houston’s first Sikh officer, »

Report: Trump doesn’t think much of his “jailbreak” legislation

Featured image For several years before Donald Trump became president, Democrats and Republicans like Lindsey Graham had been pushing for shorter jail sentences and early release for certain kinds of federal criminals. They hadn’t gotten far. That changed dramatically when Jared Kushner persuaded his father-in-law to back leniency legislation. In short order, Republican resistance crumbled and a version of leniency for drug felons was signed into law. Now, according to Politico, President »

Cops keep getting shot by criminals who aren’t allowed to have guns

Featured image The news media reported relentlessly on all matters relating even remotely to the horrific murders in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Fair enough. But I haven’t heard much from the mainstream media about the shooting in Philadelphia of six police officers by a felon who wasn’t permitted by law to possess a firearm. Maurice Hill is believed to have fired more than 100 rounds during his standoff with police. »

FIRST STEP’s first deception exposed

Featured image When the FIRST STEP act was making its way through Congress, its advocates claimed that only “non-violent” federal prisoners would be released from prison early. By non-violent felons they meant, in essence, drug dealers, as opposed to, say, murderers, rapists, and armed robbers. I don’t consider dealers of deadly drugs to be non-violent. Their conduct wrecks lives and sometimes ends them. But let’s accept, for purposes of discussion, the definition »

Joe Biden: “Let’s talk about the future”

Featured image Joe Biden, having finally apologized, ridiculously, for his remarks about working with segregationists in the 1970s, is imploring his Democratic rivals to “talk about the future instead of the past.” But talk about the past is usually more probative than talk about the future when it comes to selecting a president. Candidates who talk about the future can promise the moon. Talking about the past provides a good indication of »

John Walker Lindh and the First Step Act

Featured image John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, was released from prison last week. He served 17 years of his 20 year sentence. He got out of jail early because he received “good conduct” credits. The First Step Act — the “jailbreak” legislation pushed by the Trump administration, the Heritage Foundation, and prominent GOP Senators like Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham — expands the credits that Lindh used to get out of »

Oddities and ends at CPAC

Featured image I look forward to the CPAC conference every year because it brings John Hinderaker to town and we get together for dinner, along with his wonderful wife Loree. I don’t attend the conference and watch little of it on television. This year I saw only a portion of President Trump’s two-hour performance. I was struck, though, when I heard about some of the panels. First, let’s nominate Alex Azar for »

Did Cory Booker flip Grassley on sentencing reform?

Featured image Sen. Cory Booker likes to portray himself as someone who can work with Republicans. During a stump speech in Iowa, televised by CSPAN, Booker used the recent leniency legislation for federal felons as an example. There’s no doubt that this legislation was a genuinely bipartisan effort. And I’m sure that Booker, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and consistent advocate of leniency for felons, played a role in »

Tom Cotton on the drug war

Featured image President Trump and Congress have adopted a novel approach to combating the drug epidemic in America: release large-scale drug dealers from prison. Our friend Sen. Tom Cotton is the leading critic of this counter-intuitive, if not insane, approach. Yesterday, Sen. Cotton spoke to the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations Coalition about the ongoing fight against the deadliest drug war in our nation’s history. Below is a slightly shortened version of his »

More post-Freddy Gray bad news from Baltimore

Featured image This Washington Post article about homicide rates in Baltimore is important for two reasons. First, it confirms with updated statistics the killing spree that followed attacks on policing in Baltimore after Freddy Gray’s accidental death. Second, it demonstrates why recidivism rates based on arrest statistics vastly understate the amount of crime committed by those released for prison. This point has major implications for the federal jailbreak legislation that recently became »