Be very wary of any calls for “reform” in the realm of public policy, especially during the Obama era. Hence, immigration reform is anything but reform. The same applies for the mindless clamoring for “criminal justice reform” among the political class. The growing effort to push “criminal justice reform” will have nothing to do with legitimate “over-crim” issues and will only dismantle the ability of law enforcement to effectively fight the growing wave of crime. The broader effort will also play into Obama’s determination to nationalize law enforcement.
Much like immigration, we do need reforms in some criminal justice laws but of the opposite variety most of the political class is promoting.
We need more robust law enforcement on a local level and tougher state sentencing to combat the trend of mob violence and knockout attacks. We need more congressional oversight of the Obama Administration’s racist DOJ that has illegally investigated police departments for civil rights violations where there were no prima facie violations. Instead of the consecutive “Criminal Justice Reform” House Oversight hearings this week, we need congressional hearings uncovering how this administration has used the federal government to promote a racial agenda in local law enforcement and encouraged violence and misinformation following some of the high profile cases of civil unrest. We need congressional hearings into the sharp rise in violent crime in our cities resulting from police departments intimidated by the Obama Administration into refraining from basic police work.
As is the case with most of Obama’s efforts to fundamentally transform America, instead of fighting back Republicans are giving Obama tail winds. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is inexplicably holding two days of the aforementioned hearings on “criminal justice reform” – hearings that will serve no other purpose than to bash law enforcement at the behest of Democrat lawmakers. The entire premise of this series of hearings will be the validation of Obama’s dyslexic premise of social unrest and criminal justice and will further embolden and enable him to fundamentally transform our local cities with federalized police standards. Previous hearings in the Senate have showcased far left witnesses who don’t believe in the Constitution.
Republicans, and even some conservatives, need to remember that now is not the time to push these ideas. There are legitimate issues related to duplicative crimes, civil asset forfeiture, and certainly regulatory crimes, but that is not where this push for criminal justice reform is coming from and it’s not where it’s headed under Obama. The impetus for this push is not coming from EPA regulations, for instance, it’s coming from Obama’s false narrative about systemic police abuse of African Americans in order to distract from the civil insurrection his allies have fomented.
To be clear, there are many well-intentioned people on the right who have joined with liberals long before Obama rose to power in an effort to find some common ground on regulatory crimes, civil asset forfeiture, and duplicative federal crimes. But some of them have drifted farther and farther to the left. And given the political dynamic of the Obama era and the new rise in violent crime, they need to take a step back and observe the broader consequences of their strategy. Some of their efforts might need to wait until there is a president who is not hell-bent on dismantling law and order. At present, the rapid rise in crime and Obama’s federalization of police and discriminatory racial investigations are a more serious and pressing issue than some of these long-term reform ideas.
Just this week the DOJ’s COPS office announced the inception of a police accountability program. Congress recently passed an appropriation bill creating a $50 million slush fund to further entrench federal mandates on local police. This is antithetical to basic conservative and libertarian principles.
Furthermore, if proponents of liberalization really desire to further their cause and obtain the support of ‘law and order conservatives,’ they would make immigration enforcement a big part of their effort. Libertarians often complain about the federalization of criminal justice and the lack of respect for federalism. But immigration is one of the enumerated powers of Congress and is the source of much of an outsized share of crime in this country. How about joining the effort to crack down on sanctuary cities that thwart legitimate federal law? Instead of giving the Obama administration tailwinds in their effort to control local law enforcement in their basic police functions, why not demand that the DOJ cut off all grants to sanctuary cities?
Much of this eagerness from some members to liberalize criminal law stems from their perceived success in criminal justice laws at a state level. But they need to understand that the federal system is a different ball-game. Remember George W. Bush’s, and now Jeb Bush’s, mentality of bringing his education reforms from Texas to the national stage?
Libertarians (and liberals) also complain about the growing size of the federal prison population, particularly as it relates to drug offenses. But how can someone properly address prison and drug policy without first dealing with the 800-pound gorilla in the room – illegal immigration? Illegal immigrants account for 30% of the prison population and a whopping 55.8% of all federal drug sentences in 2013. Over 74% of all those charged with “simple possession” of drugs in 2014 were illegal aliens. Before we dismantle some of the laws that helped reduce violent crime over the past two decades, why not focus on immigration enforcement to cut costs and empty out the federal prison system?
And remember, in order to rise to the level of a federal drug offense, these criminals are usually not your run-of-the-mill 19-year-old smoking some weed. They are often big-time dealers or involved with drug cartels. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced a new bill with Bobby Scott (D-VA) stripping the mandatory minimum for possession of 110 pounds of drugs (looks like this). There is no way someone like this is not a big-time drug dealer. Spare us the sob stories of young children having their futures destroyed by the system for smoking pot one day.
Some conservatives and all libertarians want to get rid of mandatory minimums for “non-violent” federal drug offenses. Putting aside the dubious notion that most of the problems with the federal prison system are the result of non-violent drug offenses, this proposal in itself would be pretty innocuous. The problem is many of these same people are being sucked into the ACLU alliance to get rid of all mandatory minimums, even for serious crimes. Some have even suggested, “That is why we have judges.”
Really? In light of the judicial crisis with the federal bench full of Elena Kagan types who don’t believe in the Constitution or law and order, do we really want to return to pre-‘90s crime levels?
At this point, these activists risk losing conservative support for a more targeted and legitimate cause fighting against over-criminalization. They would be wise to add this to the list of issues that should be shelved until we have a conservative president who respects the rule of law and the Constitution. The OGR committee should focus on their jurisdiction of oversight and investigate the DOJ’s discriminatory civil rights division and their egregious intimidation of local law enforcement. That would go a long way in shoring up conservative support for some of their other agenda items in the realm of criminal justice. (Read more from “House GOP Promotes Obama’s Crippling of Criminal Justice” HERE)