As I reported last week in this space, Congress plans to rush through a bill that would release criminals from prison under the rubric of criminal justice reform.
According to media, the bill is designed to rectify supposed racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, not to release more innocents or to ensure the safety of the public.
Advocates for the bill say that it merely reduces sentences for non-violent criminal offenders who pose little threat to the public. That’s nonsense. The text of the current version of the bill suggests otherwise.
Under the current version of Section 924 of Title 18 of the US Code, criminals who receive a second conviction for a crime involving a “short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon” receive a sentence of minimum 25 years in prison. If that repeat crime also involves a “machine gun or destructive device,” or a gun “equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler,” the criminal goes to jail for life.
But under the revised code, that language would change significantly. Instead of a second violation being required, the second violation must take place “after a prior conviction under this sub-section,” and the 25 year minimum is reduced to 15 years in prison. The new law would apply retroactively as well, so those convicted under the old law could see their sentences reduced.
The new bill also reduces the minimum penalty from 15 years to 10 years for those who ship weapons into the country illegally after three previous convictions for a violent felony or serious drug offense.
America’s crime rate has fallen dramatically over the past several decades because we have taken crime more seriously. That means keeping serious criminals in jail, not letting them out. But, following the recent pattern of disassociating good consequences from the system that created them, we’ll now experiment with putting criminals back on the streets earlier in the name of reducing crime.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.