American Elephants


Obama’s Mass Release of Prisoners Soon to Hit the Streets by The Elephant's Child

Over the past thirty years,  Americans have experienced a record decline in crime rates. Neighborhoods once dangerous for the law abiding have been stabilized. The murder rate is down, saving many lives, mostly of young disadvantaged men in our cities. The gains, however, are fragile and at risk.

Later this month, about 6,000 federal prisoners are expected to be granted an early release from the Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has lowered the sentences for many drug offenders, and made the change retroactive. This is the largest one-time release in history, and the 6,000 inmates are set to be released  between October 30 and November 1, but is only a fraction of what is to come. According to Commission estimates, 46,000 inmates currently serving federal prison sentences for serious drug trafficking offenses are eligible for early release.

The Justice Department’s own studies on recidivism — inmates who commit new crimes after their release — are a source of concern. The Justice recidivism report showed that within five years of release, 77 percent of drug offenders in the state system had committed new crimes. Using that number would suggest that there is a potential for over 4,600 offenders and 35,000 new crimes committed in the next five years, and this is only talking about the crimes for which the recidivists are caught.

There is the famous “Fox Butterfield Effect”named after New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield who was responsible for such headlines as “More Inmates Despite Drop in Crime”. “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” and “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”He just didn’t get the connection.

Those who are not U.S. citizens will be deported, but the majority will be placed in home confinement or halfway houses and then supervised release. Those systems are already taxed, but are they prepared for thousands of new charges?

Crime in New York City is already up dramatically, due to Mayor de Blasio’s softer stance on crime. There are genuine risks in this early release plan, and it is the public that will bear the costs. Mr. Obama is already pursuing a less-serious police position in inner city neighborhoods after riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. The”Black Lives Matter” movement has police departments pulling back from policing for fear of attacks and riots — which has been accompanied by an unsurprising rise in crime rates.


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