Sentencing Reform

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 »

Lethal Weapon 5

Featured image Republicans celebrated the passage of the jailbreak legislation known as First Step with an event at a trendy restaurant in Washington. Naturally. What’s the use of passing feel-good, virtue-signaling bipartisan legislation unless you have a great party afterwards? Politico reports that Van Jones introduced Jared Kushner, the man of the hour. Jones, you may remember, was too leftist even for the Obama administration. But he’s not too leftist for Kushner. »

House passes First Step

Featured image As expected, the House passed First Step, the leniency legislation for federal felons, by a vote of 358-36. Here are the House members, all Republicans, who voted against the jailbreak, in defiance of White House arm-twisting, threats from leadership over committee assignments, and big money interests like the Koch Brothers: Ralph Abraham (LA) Robert Aderholt (AL) Brian Babin (TX) Andy Biggs (AZ) Mo Brooks (AL) Ken Buck (CO) Bradley Byrne »

Jailbreak: The head count

Featured image Late last night, the Senate passed First Step, the leniency legislation that will free many thousands of felons from federal prison and shorten the sentences of many thousands of future felons. The vote was 87-12. Here are the 12 courageous Republicans who resisted pressure from the Trump administration and from big-money interest groups like the Koch Brothers, and voted to protect the public from the hardened criminals who populate federal »

Tom Cotton: Amend First Step

Featured image I wrote here about Sen. Tom Cotton’s proposed amendments to First Step — the jailbreak legislation that’s on the verge of passing the Senate. Now, in an article for NRO, Sen. Cotton explains the need for his amendments. Cotton focuses on the fact that First Step, though it excludes some federal criminals from eligibility for early release, fails to exclude a number of very serious felonies, including violent ones. He »

Sen. Cotton seeks to amend First Step

Featured image Sen. Tom Cotton has offered three amendments to First Step — the leniency for federal felons legislation that President Trump supports. Sen. Cotton’s amendments would: (1) Make nine additions to the bill’s “ineligible prisoners” list for violent felons and sex offenders who are eligible for time credits. This includes sex offenders convicted of coercing a child into sexual activity under 18 U.S.C. § 2422; felons who assault law enforcement officers »

McConnell will bring leniency legislation to Senate floor for vote

Featured image Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today that he will bring First Step — i.e., leniency legislation for federal felons — to the Senate floor. It has more than enough votes to pass. McConnell’s move follows some concessions to the bill’s critics. Although the concessions don’t come close to curing the legislation, they were enough, combined with pressure from the White House and from wealthy Republican donors, to move some GOP »

Trump’s tepid support for leniency legislation

Featured image Last month, President Trump announced his support for FIRST STEP. This legislation provides leniency for federal drug felons by shortening some sentences at the front end, and leniency for federal felons of many stripes at the back end by enabling early release from prison. It wasn’t clear why Trump made this decision, which is inconsistent with his promise to get tougher with fentanyl dealers. Perhaps it was constant pestering from »

FIRST STEP bitterly divides Senate Republicans

Featured image FIRST STEP, the leniency for federal felons legislation being supported by President Trump, may or may not pass the Senate this year. Either way, it has split the Republican caucus. This Washington Post report leaves no doubt about that. The division is encapsulated in dueling National Review articles — one by Sen. Tom Cotton opposing the jailbreak and the other by Sen. Mike Lee supporting it. In another NRO article, »

Trump’s flip-flop on sentencing of drug traffickers

Featured image Conservatives applaud President Trump for keeping his promises. And we are justified in doing so. Trump has indeed kept many of his non-hyperbolic promises. Unfortunately, Trump has violated one of his most important promises: getting tougher on drug dealers. Here is what Trump said just eight months ago: Every day, 116 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose. In New Hampshire, the overdose, really, death rate — I mean, can you »

Just hours after release, “non-violent” criminal kills woman

Featured image Fox News reports on the arrest of a man suspected of killing a woman just hours after being released from state prison. David Bohart, 34, had been released from the Tucson state prison complex after serving a three-year stint for possession or use of dangerous drugs, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections. He had served two previous terms in prison on convictions for forgery and possession or use of »

Getting to like Matt Whitaker, courtesy of the Washington Post

Featured image I’m still unhappy about President Trump’s removal of Jeff Sessions. But the more I read about acting attorney general Matt Whitaker in the Washington Post, the more I like him. Yesterday, the Post’s big reveal about Whitaker was that he spent a few years working for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a conservative-leaning nonprofit dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials. In that capacity, he often »

Trump backs leniency for fentanyl dealers, etc. Part Two

Featured image Yesterday, I wrote about President Trump’s support for what Sen. Tom Cotton calls jailbreak legislation. That legislation, known as FIRST STEP, enables the early release from federal prison of most categories of federal felons and sets lower mandatory minimum sentences for many federal drug felons. Yesterday’s post focused on the politics of FIRST STEP. Today, I want to focus on how the legislation would affect fentanyl dealers. I focus on »

Team Leniency extends its generosity to child pornographers

Featured image FIRST STEP — the leniency legislation being pushed by the left, by some conservatives, and by Jared Kushner — is the gift that keeps on giving to federal felons of all stripes. Much of the leniency is extended to federal drug felons, a group that does not include citizens who merely possessed marijuana. But it also encompasses many sex offenders. FIRST STEP provides for the early release from prison of »

Key law enforcement groups oppose FIRST STEP

Featured image 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 »