Although Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is currently pushing so-called “criminal justice reform,” a euphemism for releasing criminals from prison after the smoldering aftermath of race riots of Ferguson and Baltimore, back in 2011 he condemned former Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony supporting retroactive sentencing reductions.
In a 2011 letter obtained by Breitbart News, Republican Sens. John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions, and Grassley wrote to Holder that they did not appreciate the Department of Justice’s support of using the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 — meant only to apply to future sentences handed out to criminals convicted of possessing crack cocaine — to apply retroactively to those already serving time.
Holder’s department disingenuously told Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin it understood that the Act applied only to sentences applied after the Act was implemented and judges “[lack] authority” to give a sentence that failed to meet mandatory minimum requirements two months earlier, then testified to the contrary.
Holder’s department used the same arguments that Republicans including Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan are employing now to put convicts back on the streets during an alarming, nationwide surge in crime. Retroactive sentencing reduction would “be available to a class of non-violent offenders who have limited criminal history and did not possess or use a weapon, and thus to offenders who pose the least risk of danger to public safety.” That’s language similar to Ryan’s 2014 proposal that suggested freeing thousands of convicted drug pushers back into American communities in order to trim the federal budget.
“It would be a mistake to assume that non-violent offenses do not harm communities. But not all non-violent offenses are alike, and a certain level of judicial discretion is necessary to ensure that the punishment fits the crime,” his budget plan read, while neglecting to note that “non-violent” encompasses crimes from arson, larceny, drug trafficking, and drunk driving, for starters.
Both Holder’s Department of Justice and Ryan neglected to note that 99.8 percent of people in federal prison on a drug sentence are actually drug traffickers, not amateur drug users — traffickers who commit many violent crimes that are brushed off as authorities seek quick resolutions to cases. As Breitbart News has pointed out, it’s easier to process and convict their trafficking because the evidence comes in neatly-wrapped packages of cocaine, meth and heroin. Ninety-seven percent of all federal cases end in plea bargains, and between “stop snitchin'” campaigns and criminals’ reluctance to plead guilty to the worst crimes they’re charged with, virtually no one is sitting in state or federal prison for smoking a joint.
“Reducing sentences is not tough, creates unpredictability, harms public safety, promotes recidivism, and increases the negative, often devastating effects of illegal drugs, both for those whose sentences are reduced and in the consequent diminished deterrent effect on other potential drug offenders,” the letter reads.
The letter also explained that applying retroactive releases contrary to the letter and spirit of the Act would jam the legal system with convicts’ demands to be released and hamstring the administration’s attempts to prosecute ongoing crimes.
“[W]hatever the Department’s intentions and hopes, it cannot control the actions of the judges who will be required to review any of the thousands of petitions what will be submitted by currently incarcerated inmates,” the letter continues, noting that every criminal who wanted an early release would immediately file petitions for their very own get-out-of-jail-free card advertised by the Democrats. The chaos created by this surge would “interfere” with prosecuting newly-arrested suspects charged with federal crimes.
“Second,” the letter adds, “the Department’s proposal would in no way be limited to those “offenders who pose the least risk of danger to public safety.” Those explicitly eligible for a reduced sentence included violent felons who committed aggravated robbery, serious assault, even murder. Holder’s Justice Department treated the additional charge of possessing crack cocaine as an excuse.
Grassley and Cornyn’s crusade comes as crime is surging from its post-1970s decline, while Democrats and their media allies continue to push narratives that demonize cops and canonize petty criminals such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the White House’s allies will release 6,000 inmates by November.
Email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.