Today, December 6, 2018, is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Bari (270 AD-343 AD) according to Lives of the Saints by Fr. Alban Butler (first published in 1887 under the title Lives of the Saints–With Reflections for Every Day in the Year), read here http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots375.htm and a more detailed article from Tradition in Action at https://traditioninaction.org/SOD/j050sdNicholas12-6.htm
Reading about these saints is a wonderful daily reflection; such marvelous lives the saints lived, such an army, the Church Triumphant, who has our back in heaven.
Proposed Criminal Justice Legislation is Bad
Following up on Tuesday’s post, this article from the Wall Street Journal furthers the case.
First, do no harm” is a well-known motto of medical professionals. If only our politicians followed it as well.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress are eager to pass something this year under the banner of “criminal-justice reform.” But bipartisan support isn’t an automatic Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Members on both sides of the aisle can, and sometimes do, team up to pass bad bills, and the so-called First Step Act is a good example. The more we learn about it, the worse it looks.
By a vote of 360-59 in May, the House passed a version of the legislation designed to curb recidivism by helping inmates return to society. It provides for more rehabilitation programs and vocational training, for example. Prison conditions also would improve under the bill: Inmates would be placed in facilities located closer to their families, and women would no longer be shackled during childbirth. So far, so good.
But once the First Step Act moved to the upper chamber for consideration, what had been a federal prison-reform measure morphed into a sentencing-reduction bill. For starters, the Senate bill eliminates mandatory life-without-parole penalties for repeat drug offenders and reduces mandatory-minimum sentences for other serious drug offenses.
On Monday, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard pointed out that the bill would give prison wardens the authority to deem violent criminals no longer dangerous and make them eligible for early release. “At the very least,” he writes, “this loophole undercuts the claim by supporters of the bill that ‘violent criminals and sex offenders’ would not qualify for shortened sentences.”
Among those supporters are President Trump and many Republicans in Congress who have made common cause with Barack Obama, Eric Holder and others on the activist left in denouncing “mass incarceration.” Some on the right believe that locking arms with liberal criminal-justice crusaders will help Republicans win minority votes. Others, like libertarian-leaning Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, point to the high costs of locking people up. But you do not help minority communities by going easy on the very people who prey on them. It is black and brown people who benefit the most when violent crime drops.
The costs of incarceration should be measured against the cost of letting criminals go free. The relevant comparison is not between, say, schooling and a prison cell. Rather, it’s between the cost of imprisonment and the cost of criminal activity. What are the costs of stolen or damaged property, lives lost, or families living in fear after dope pushers take over a housing project? And what price will unelected judges and prison wardens pay when their decisions backfire?
Also lost in this debate is sympathy for the law-abiding residents of violence-plagued ghettos who believe that these criminals are not so much victims of “society” or “institutional racism” as they are victims of their own character flaws. The left-wing Sentencing Project reported in 2014 that when Americans were surveyed on whether courts “deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals,” 73% of whites and 64% of blacks responded, “not harshly enough.” If nearly two-thirds of black respondents feel that the criminal-justice system goes too easy on lawbreakers, perhaps the mass-incarceration activists aren’t speaking for those in the black community after all.
Until recently, the most vocal opponent of the First Step Act was GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. But the more Republicans learn about the sentencing provisions in the measure—and how different it is from the version that passed the House—the less they like it. I’m told that Republican critics now include, among others, Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Ted Cruz of Texas, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Law-enforcement agencies like the National Sheriffs’ Association also are pressing for changes to the bill. Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has kept his opinion to himself, but his staff has disseminated articles critical of the legislation.
Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/will-the-senate-surrender-on-criminal-justice-1543966360