Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Biden has been a big disappointment on criminal justice reform so far

 I'm still hoping he can turn things around.  But he has been extremely tepid with criminal justice reform.  The latest is this potential action -- commuting sentences only for low level drug offenders who were temporarily released from BOP custody during the pandemic.  There has been a big push not to have any of these low level offenders go back in.  Why only drug offenders? Makes no sense.  

From the N.Y. Times:

In interviews, officials have subsequently confirmed that focus. As a first step, the Justice Department will soon begin requesting clemency petitions for drug offenders who have less than four years left on their sentence, which will then be reviewed by its pardon office, they said.

It is unclear whether the Biden team is leaning toward commuting the sentences of the nonviolent drug offenders to home confinement, reducing the length of their sentences to bring them within the normal window for home confinement or a mix of the two.

The officials said focusing on nonviolent drug offenders, as opposed to other types of criminals, dovetailed with Mr. Biden’s area of comfort on matters of criminal justice reform. In his campaign platform, Mr. Biden had said he pledged to end prison time for drug use alone and instead divert offenders to drug courts and treatment.

Inimai Chettiar, the federal director of the Justice Action Network, called the idea a good start but also questioned the basis for limiting it to some nonviolent drug offenders, saying there was “no scientific evidence” for restricting the help to that category. She suggested another explanation. “Politically, it’s an easier group to start with,” Ms. Chettiar said.

In addition, officials said, the Justice Department is studying other options that could help keep different groups from being forced back into prison. Another idea under consideration is to petition the courts to let some individual inmates stay in home confinement under a “compassionate release” law.


Anonymous said...

Isn't reform more up to Congress and Garland?

Robert Kuntz said...

What's this you say, DOM? The chief Senate sponsor of the "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993" has disappointed you with his lack of leadership on criminal justice reform?

I'm afraid, my friend, that I have to direct you to Aesop's fable of The Scorpion and The Frog.

Anonymous said...

Its too early to talk about reform yet but he is way too slow on judges. Trump had over 100 judges ready to go on day one. The GOP is far more focused on the federal judiciary than democrats. Democrats are always asleep at the switch.

Anonymous said...

Kuntz' comments always particularly unhelpful.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, though, Biden has been a huge success on other issues. Like COVID. And Afghanistan. Just give him time on criminal justice reform.

Anonymous said...


Your welcome

Belen E. said...

Biden has been a complete disappointment as to the criminal justice world and reform. Between the lack of oversight at the Bureau of Prisons (approximately 270 incarcerated individuals have died in federal prisons due to COVID-19), the ridiculous criteria arbitrarily created by the Bureau of Prisons as to who qualifies for Home Confinement under the CARES Act, no quorum at the Sentencing Commission, so that “extraordinary and compelling circumstances” can be deciphered, the thousands of clemency petitions stuck in the system and I can go on for days. Recently, the Bureau of Prisons returned to prison a pregnant woman based allegedly on her not answering the phone when the halfway house called (you can look her up, her name is Raquel Esquivel). How is this justice?
If this administration wants to transcend history, they need comprehensive criminal justice reform that includes everyone affected. Granting clemency to only drug offenders, it’s unfair and, in my opinion (I am not an attorney), a due process violation. The savings of taxpayers are incredible so far. Each year an incarcerated individual costs approximately 40k to taxpayers without considering cases that require complex medical care or more costly programs such as RDAP. Most of those 4,000 individuals are working, are getting the mental and medical care rage the Bureau of Prisons does not offer, have reintegrated into society, are paying restitution, are going to school, and trying to live a normal life within the limits of their home confinement. Returning them to prison would be completely illogical. They pose no danger to society. And academically speaking, studies show that the severity of a sentence is not as effective as certainty. As a formerly incarcerated individual, I can assure you that prison is not the solution to the problem. Our current prison system is the problem. Justice impacted individuals like myself will carry lifetime consequences that are much harder than a lengthy sentence. But logically, those who love retribution would disagree with me.