Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa made a last-ditch plea for sentencing reductions for federal prisoners amid high-profile cop massacres, a heroin epidemic, and a national crime wave on Wednesday evening.
“Criminal justice reform doesn’t call on conservatives to abandon their principles. It calls on them to fight for them,” Lee said. “This process and the conservative cause is all about making our communities, these little platoons if you will, of service, of cooperation, that are at the very heart of our constitutional republic, safe and prosperous and happy.”
The jailbreak bill acknowledges the “redemptive capacity for all sinners,” Lee added. The Obama-backed Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 isn’t perfect but it’s an “extraordinarily great start.”
Grassley offered similar pablum, saying: “In light of recent and justified concerns of treatment of suspects by some police, and treatment of police by people who would do them harm, the need for the bill is even greater today.”
In a nation of nearly 319 million, including a significant criminal underclass boasting its wild, gleeful hatred of law enforcement and white police officers, it’s not remarkable that some life-long criminals would fatally resist police. What is remarkable, in the eyes of the bill’s critics, is the insistence on pushing Obama-backed legislation guaranteed to further endanger American communities.
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions has warned that the bill would grant an early release for nearly all drug traffickers poisoning American communities. “The Senate bill would drastically reduce mandatory minimum sentences for all drug traffickers, even those who are armed and traffic in dangerous drugs like heroin, and provide for the early release of dangerous drug felons currently incarcerated in federal prison.This bill doesn’t touch simple possession, because there’s virtually no simple possession cases in federal court,” he said in May.
Law enforcement organizations have also denounced the bill, saying retroactively slashing the sentences of convicted criminals “would endanger pending and successful investigations and prosecutions” and make it more difficult to pursue prosecution of criminal enterprises such as drug cartels. National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys President Steven H. Cook testified before the Senate in October, shortly after the bill was introduced, explaining that the bill gave yet another chance to criminals who have been tried and convicted:
To be clear, the beneficiaries of the retroactivity provisions of the Act will be dangerous criminals who blatantly violated clearly established laws, have already pled guilty or been convicted by juries, have been sentenced by judges, appealed their cases to our appellate courts and have thus received the full measure of due process afforded by our Constitution. If this legislation passes and is made retroactive, for some of these offenders this will be the fourth time their sentencing has been reopened. How can we expect the public to have confidence in a criminal justice system that is unstable to the point that the rules are rewritten every year or two and the litigation never concludes? When does it end?
Obama’s sentencing commission already plans to release 46,000 federal prisoners independently of the GOP bill. Neither Lee nor Grassley mentioned this critical fact.