Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama/Democrats Go Soft On Crime

The Democrats love criminals. Ever since the 1960s, they’ve cared more about criminals than any other group, and certainly more than they care about you. They proved that again this weekend when Obama quietly signed a law you never heard of, a law that seeks to undo the incredible progress we’ve made in cutting the nation’s crime rates to historically low levels. And wait till you hear the reasoning!

In the 1960s, an army of liberals descended upon the criminal justice system. Armed with degrees in weepy liberalism and lunacy, they saw criminals as victims of racist juries and judges, victims of poverty and cycles of violence, and victims of a society that wasn’t liberal. And what about the people these poor victims raped, murdered, maimed and robbed? Well, they were collateral damage, and liberals weren’t interested in them. Not surprisingly, crime soared. Everything from murder to rape to petty vandalism took off to levels not seen since the barbarians swept through Rome.

Then came the backlash and the age of Reagan. Non-retarded Americans got sick of being victimized by these monsters and decided to take the system out of the hands of the liberal enablers. Thus, they passed truth in sentencing laws that required criminals to actually serve their sentences. No longer would juries sentence someone to life only to discover that meant 10 years (although this is still the law in West Virginia). They passed mandatory minimum sentencing laws to prevent liberal judges from letting everyone with a weepy tale go with a slap on the wrist and a hug. And they passed three strikes and you’re out laws to lock up recidivists.

And guess what happened? Over the howls of liberals. . . howls about the two time rapist/murder who was “unfairly” locked away for life “for stealing a slice of pizza,” howls that the United States locked up more people than anyone else (though this was a statistical lie), howls that locking people up “wouldn’t solve anything”. . . crime plunged. Yep. Year after year, the crime rate kept falling until we reached a point that hadn’t been seen since the 1950s.

Not surprisingly, liberals were furious. They couldn’t accept that the ignorant masses knew something their “enlightened” ilk did not, and that their “enlightened” ideas caused a 40 year crime wave. So they tried to find reasons why locking criminals up wasn’t what caused the drop in crime. Everything from decreases in poverty to an aging population was offered as possible reasons for the drop in crime. But the statistics never supported these assertions. Thus, liberals were left with a head-scratcher, crime rates fell and “no one seems to know why.” Only occasionally would one of them reluctantly acknowledge that locking up career criminals is “probably” what caused this.

Still, liberals don’t give up that easily. So for decades now they’ve been trying to undo mandatory sentences and three strikes laws. They’ve found every case they thought was “unfair” and they tried to make heroes and celebrities of them. They’ve attacked the death penalty, life in prison, prison conditions, and “disparate treatment.” In particular, they were upset that distribution of crack cocaine resulted in longer sentences than distribution of powder cocaine. Why? Because “it’s the same drug” and “blacks are more likely than whites to use crack,” thus this distinction is “racist”. . . like a ham sandwich.

What they ignored, of course, was that crack dealers are much more likely to engage in violence and that crack is significantly more powerful. Indeed, their argument is akin to asserting that two criminals should receive the same sentence for stealing $20, “because it was the same crime,” even though one criminal snuck the money out of his mother’s purse and the other took hostages in a bank. (And let's not forget that contrary to what liberals apparently believe, blacks don't need to do crack.)

In any event, Democrats were afraid to take up this cause because they didn’t want to be seen as “soft on crime,” which is a nice way of saying “on the side of rapists, murderers, drug dealers and child molesters.” But all that changed this weekend.

On Saturday, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces minimum sentences for crack cocaine sentences, and he announced a top-to-bottom review of mandatory minimum sentences with the apparent intention of reducing sentence length for everything from drug dealing to being “convicted of child pornography offenses.” Ah, liberalism.

Listen to Holder:

“Too many people have been treated in a disparate manner and too many of our citizens have come to have doubts about our criminal justice system.”
No, not really, just liberals have doubts, and it’s the same doubts they’ve always had. They just don’t like the idea of punishing perverts and monsters.
“We must . . . have the courage to ask difficult questions of ourselves and our system. We must break out of the old and tired partisan stances that have stood in the way of needed progress and reform.”
Why is it that doing the liberal thing is always the courageous thing and standing in the way of liberals is always the partisan thing? And if Holder wants to ask a difficult question, he should ask why he and his kind are obsessed with doing what’s already been proven not to work, and why they like the idea of turning predators loose on the population?

So why now? Two reasons, both of them ridiculous.

First, the Democrats think the public won’t notice them going all “soft on crime” again because the Republicans have distracted the public by calling them “soft of terror.” Think about this argument for a moment: you’ll be so distracted thinking Democrats are child molesters that you won’t notice them molesting your dog. Sorry, that’s not happening you Democratic-pedophile-ophiles. . . we will notice.

Secondly, these idiots think now is a good time to tinker because crime rates are so low:
“Advocates point to several reasons for the shift toward a less-draconian approach to crime and for its retreat as a hot-button political issue. Crime rates are at some of the lowest levels in a generation.”
In other words, the prior policies worked. . . so now we can use the calm that created to go back to doing what didn’t work because people aren't as worried about the issue anymore. This is why liberalism should be classified as a form of retardation.

Expect crime rates to start "inexplicably" rising again soon.


Writer X said...

As long as the criminals are released into Eric Holder's neighborhood, I'm fine with it.

AndrewPrice said...

You know X, I've thought about that. We should pass a law requiring them to move into Holder's neighborhood (or Obama's) if they get early release. We'll see how much they like their policies then!

Ed said...

"Democratic-pedophile-ophiles" - I like that! Thanks for pointing this out, I haven't heard this anywhere, especially not in the MSM.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: As a criminal defense attorney, I remember those halcyon days. Even in law-and-order Ventura County, the diktats of the US and California Supreme courts allowed me to get my finest scumbags back on the street in no time. Rose Bird (secretary of state-governor-mayor-attorney general-governor[?] Jerry Brown's California Chief Justice) made life so easy I could phone appeals in. It got so bad that I once told an appellate court judge who granted one of my criminal appeals that "I was just doing my job, I never thought you'd actually buy my argument."

It got tougher with the recall and removal of Rose Bird and two of her fellow leftist Supremes, but it does look as if it's coming back to California if Jerry Brown wins his 411th run for office and third term as governor.

The biggest faux argument for lenient sentencing in California right now is prison "overcrowding." I guess if you put more than two skells in a cell it's hard to see the HDTV.

And as you've mentioned, the biggest group demanding to be let out are the perpetrators of "victimless crimes." What, exactly, is a victimless crime?

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed! This isn't really a story they are going to want to let out. Because while they think that crime is no longer a big deal for voters, they don't want to test that idea.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, "Victimless crimes" are the BS category for things liberals think shouldn't be crimes. And they use these as a trojan horse for other crimes.

For example, they talk about "why do we lock up people for possession of a few grams of marijuana -- a legitimate question. But then as soon as you agree with them, they start proposing that crack dealers should be let out of jail.

If liberals are interested in serious sentencing reform, then they need to drop out of the argument because all they do is make it impossible for anyone to discuss these issues reasonably.

Ed said...

What do you think about sentencing people for really minor crimes? Should we be locking people up for prostitution, writing a bad check or possession of a single joint?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, This is another liberal myth. The truth is that no one goes to jail for a single minor crime. Most first time criminal get nothing more than a slap on the wrist and sometimes a fine, and then their records are usually expunged.

Even the second and third "minor" offense rarely brings any jail time, and then it's something like 30 days, which will be suspended or considered as served by the night you spent in jail when you were arrested.

It's after that that they begin to hold these people or put them on house arrest (which is become much more popular).

By the time you hit jail, you've usually done a lot more than just one or two minor crimes.

Ed said...

Wow, so this whole argument about us locking up people for minor stuff is a lie?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Essentially, yes. I'm not saying it can't happen, but it almost never does. It doesn't make a lot of sense for prosecutors to demand jail time from first time criminals, and judges are loath to impose jail time. So what happens is that people cut a plea deal.

For example, your first DUI is almost always pleaded down to a reckless driving charge with a suspended sentence. If you have a good lawyer, you cut a deal where you hold off the plea for 6 months and if you stay out of trouble, they dismiss the charges.

This is just a Trojan Horse argument that liberals are using by citing the law as written (not as applied) and then whining about how unfair it is, with the hopes that they can use this to completely redo the sentencing laws to get rid of serious punishments for serious crimes.

CrispyRice said...

Interesting article!

I was listening to a podcast the other day with a guest talking about the improving human condition in general, and he said that your odds of being a victim of homicide are down and falling dramatically. (And apparently way, way down from the middle ages. Go figure.)

I'd argue that wealth-creation helps in a big way with reducing crime. The more real opportunities people have in their lives (and the less gov't intrusion / regulation / welfare) the more power they feel, and the less likely they are to turn to crime.

But maybe I'm a Pollyanna. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think there is certainly something to that at the margins... but there is a whole criminal class out there causes around 80% of all crime. Those are the people who have been locked up with the changes in these laws which Obama and company are trying to undo. That's why crime is dropping.

Anyone involved in criminal law (in practice, not theory) can tell you that most criminals are repeat offenders with long records and that crime runs in families. The liberal/Hollywood view that people are forced into crime is simply not true. Crime becomes a lifestyle for some people -- and nothing (not even economic opportunity) will change that.

DUQ said...

Ed, I'd add a different take re the minor crimes. Look at what happened in NYC when they cracked down on minor things like littering and grafitti. The good behaviour trickled up to other crimes. If you let a neighborhood fester with grafitti and petty things, it makes a nice home for more major crime. So personally, I'm all in favor of prosecuting minor and victimless crimes too.

wahsatchmo said...

Andrew -

I agree in principle that most mandatory sentences are appropriate, including the three strikes laws in California. I also agree in disparate treatment for drug crimes based upon the nature of the drug, and for the prosecution of minor offenses.

I disagree though that situations like DUIs rarely result in jail time on the first offense, especially in AZ. Since we have mandatory sentences for DUIs based upon BAC, most 1st offense alcohol-related DUIs in AZ end up with a minimum 1 day jail sentence (10 days, with 9 suspended). Extreme DUIs (over .15 BAC) result in minimum 30 days on the first offense, with no sentence reduction available. Super Extreme DUIs (.20 BAC) are 45 days mandatory, no suspension available. These are all for first time misdemeanor offenses.

Generally, the state has no incentive to make plea deals in AZ, and a good lawyer has very little wiggle room in the law to get the sentence reduced. The most they will do is reduce a Super Extreme to an Extreme, or an Extreme to a regular DUI if the BAC is close to the cutoff for the level of charge. The only time when pleas really occur is below .08 BAC, where the state must actually prove impaired beyond the slightest degree.

I believe that the next step that Arizona is going to take is to deny jury trials for misdemeanor DUI charges like California has done, and to reduce the BAC required for DUI down to .04. I fear that this is taking mandatory sentencing too far, to the point where generally law abiding citizens are prosecuted more zealously than career criminals who have rights to a trial by jury and require the state to present evidence.

Do I think AZ is an extreme case where mandatory sentences are applied? Yes, I do. But these are laws passed by my state senators, representatives, and the people, so I do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to pass a law circumventing the will of local government. This is a situation to be dealt with on the state and local level, not by the long arm of the feds.

Joel Farnham said...


What angers me about this is that every consideration for the criminal after conviction is given to the criminal. There is never any consideration for the victim.

This is why Sherrif Arpaio is so popular. He treats the criminal like a criminal. Not a pampered pet.

The other thing, it almost is as if there is a vested interest in keeping criminals around the populace.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, That's true. That's the broken window theory of criminal law -- if you let things decay, then the sense of ownership decreases and that becomes an invitation for criminals.

Crime has many facets... but they can all be fixed using common sense!

StanH said...

When a discussion like this pops up, I always think of Dirty Harry, and the movie in the series “Enforcer,” with Tyne Daly. Where due to diversity quotas they set up Daly as Harry’s partner, of coarse she gets killed. The Mayor gets kidnapped and Harry saves the day. This is after his police commissioner lectures Harry on civility and the rights of criminals, they need the dinosaur(Harry) to deal with the situation. And to me this punctuates your article Harry says at one point, “that’s a hell of a price too pay to be stylish.” Liberals are a criminals best friend, and if some has to get hurt or worse, well, this is the price they are willing too pay to be stylish.

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, Arizona is a unique case in that regard then. Every other state I've ever been involved in has involved a lot of leniency for first offenses because it costs more to lock people up for a few days than it's worth in terms of punishment/deterrent.

In these other states, the law itself isn't lenient, but the prosecutors have a lot of discretion in how they charge you and judges have a lot of discretion in the sentences they impose.

That said, I think our society is going way overboard on the issue of drinking and driving. I agree that it's dangerous and should be punished... BUT they are setting the BAC levels so low that people who aren't anywhere near impaired are risking jail time without even knowing it. Indeed, it's gotten to the point that having one beer at lunch is almost enough that you can be arrested after dinner because your BAC is still high enough. And many of these people are advocating zero BAC -- which is well beyond the margin of error in the tests and has zero effect on your ability to drive or do anything else. This does need to be changed. In fact, I think .8 is too low.

I also have a good deal of sympathy for the idea of not locking people up for "small crimes." Take drug possession -- I don't believe in legalization -- but sending someone to jail for 30-90 days for a single joint is not an effective use of jail space and it does nothing to correct these people. A better solution would be some sort of community service for those kinds of offenses and jail only for repeat offenders -- and even then, I like the idea of boot camps.

The real problem with this issue is that on the right, people scream "soft on crime" any time you want to reduce sentencing or try something new (and they are constantly trying to add crimes to show they are tough on crime). Yet, at the same time, the left makes reasonable sounding arguments to get an issue raised, but then tries to advocate really awful weakenings of the law. For example, they complain about someone being arrested for one joint, but then they argue that the solution is to let coke dealers go. So neither side is being intelligent or reasonable on this issue, and that makes this a very difficult issue to address.

I am also not happy with the erosion of civil liberties that has taken place, though that's a discussion for another day.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, After conviction, I agree with you. Once you are convicted, there needs to be an greater focus on victims rights, something that is sorely lacking today. However, prior to conviction, I oppose such laws because at that point, the purpose of the system should be to determine guilt, not to seek vengeance.

On your second point, you actually have put your finger on something a lot of people have claimed -- that there is a whole industry set up that depends on criminals, and thus, they aren't eager to truly end crime.

I'm not sure I buy that -- the prosecutors and cops I know would be just as happy having little to do. But I think there are groups out there who would be saddened to see crime end. Indeed, there seem to be a large number of politicians and interest groups who thrive on either (1) being tough on crime or (2) helping the poor victims of the state. For them, crime is a way to get public support and donations and gives them a platform to feel important.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I just watched that the other night and I think that's a fantastic quote! It's one thing to try to tweak the system to improve parts that aren't working, it's another to simply decide to try something new because it fits a trendy theory.

When people who murder and rape are turned free because of some new experiment with no basis in human experience, people die.

wahsatchmo said...

Andrew -

Yeah, I do believe that AZ is unique in its DUI laws (a little googling will produce a myriad of complaints about AZ's sentences), which is precisely why they need to be dealt with at the local level, NOT by the federal government.

Just because one state has gone too far in one area of the law doesn't mean that the remaining 49 (or 56, according to Obama's last count) need to repeal all of their mandatory sentencing laws as well.

AndrewPrice said...

wasatchmo, I agree. This is a nationwide problem, but it's a local issue (except where federal law rears its ugly head).

I think there are flaws in how we think about sentencing that should be addressed, but neither side is doing that well at the moment. Like I said above, the right doesn't want to reduce anything no matter how much sense it makes and the left simply doesn't want to see anyone ever locked up.

We need to put these ideological issues aside and look at what works and what doesn't. . . i.e. depoliticize the issue. Until we do that, some states will be too harsh and others too lenient.

One thing I do know though, is that what Obama is doing is bad. He's not looking to fix the problems in the system, he's looking to fix the "political problems" in the system, i.e. those that his ideological friends complain about. That's only going to lead to a surge in crime and people being hurt.

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