Homicide and violent crime rates are soaring in cities across the country this year, but that hasn’t derailed President Obama’s grand ambitions to open up the flood gates of federal prisons and release more hardened criminals back onto the streets.
Tuesday, on his home turf of Chicago — where homicides are up 20 percent in 2015 and multi-murder weekends are commonplace — the president pitched his plan to a gathering of skeptical police chiefs. He extolled his efforts to undo a 30-year crackdown on crime that has made the country safer but produced what liberals deem a major societal injustice – a mass incarceration “epidemic” focused on African Americans.
“For generations we’ve had African American and Latino communities who’ve pointed to racial disparities in the application of criminal justice — from arrest rates to sentencing to incarceration rates,” Obama told the police chiefs. “We can’t have a situation in which a big chunk of the population feels like the situation isn’t working out as well for them.”
But by calling for the demilitarization of police units, greater scrutiny of officers in minority neighborhoods and reduced prison sentences for so-called “non-violent” offenders, Obama’s message to the police chiefs might as well have been that that there has never been a better time to be a criminal in the United States.
Obama is recasting traditional narratives and common sense to portray minority criminals as victims in need of deliverance from white-dominated law enforcement institutions.
By claiming that the costs of keeping a large incarcerated population – 2.2 million people in 2015 – are unsustainable and that the criminal justice system has become an aggravator of racial disparities, Obama is recasting traditional narratives and common sense to portray minority criminals as victims in need of deliverance from white-dominated law enforcement institutions.
His opponents say concerns over the affordability of maintaining a large prison population are unsubstantiated. Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, notes that the $6 billion the U.S. spends on the federal prison system annually is a drop in the bucket compared to welfare and entitlement programs, and even less than the $7 billion U.S consumers spend on Halloween each year.
Obama has so far granted clemency to 89 criminals serving drug-related sentences in federal prison. At the end of October, his Justice Department will commence another Halloween scare – an unprecedented release of 6,000 prisoners from federal prisons who were given sentences deemed as overly harsh.
Concurrently, legislation is progressing through the Senate — with support from many Republicans — that would retroactively commute the sentences of another 6,500 criminals and countless others moving ahead.
Accordingly, the president’s efforts to keep African Americans and other minorities out of prison have focused more on hamstringing the ability of law enforcement to do their jobs than on encouraging a shift in societal values – such as towards two parent households — that would deter people from turning to crime in the first place.
Last year’s events in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager was killed by a white cop, helped to catalyze Obama’s reforms. His push to promote an agenda of racial animosity over one of public safety has left cops round the country feeling impotent while emboldening criminals, a trend that has been identified as the “Ferguson effect.”
Obama has perpetuated a storyline asserting that justice is better served by dumping non-violent offenders back on the street
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Just last week, FBI director James Comey attributed the alarming rise in violent crime this year to increased scrutiny of police behavior by groups like Black Lives Matter — which Obama has tacitly supported. The White House and other Justice Department higher ups avow that this narrative is false.
Rather, Obama has perpetuated a storyline asserting that justice is better served by dumping non-violent offenders back on the street, regardless of whether they plea bargained down from more violent charges or still harbor connections to violent gangs and drug cartels.
Many law enforcement groups warn that this notion is patently false, and that schemes to put these people back on the street blatantly ignore public safety concerns and mischaracterize the type of person who ends up in federal prison to begin with.
A criminal must make a career out of lawbreaking to end up in the federal prison system, explained Bob Bushman, president of the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition. “This whole narrative about nonviolent offenders is just not true. These people have worked hard to get to prison. They’re not just standing on the street corner smoking dope.”