Congress has lots of unfinished business. One important item is prison and sentencing reform. The House of Representatives has already passed the First Step Act. It is time for the Senate to do the same.
Recently I had Rebecca Hagelin on the Point of View radio program to talk about her commentary on “Our Failing Prisons and Faulty War on Drugs.” A few months ago, I had Star Parker on to talk about the same legislation. These women will admit that they have been known as being “tough on crime.” Both of them also realize that locking up parents of kids for years for nonviolent drug offenses is doing more damage to society than good.
Our current federal laws require mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Often the people we throw into prison for two decades are low level dealers not the drug kingpins we really need to get off the streets. Sadly, they received little or no vocational training and little in the way of drug rehabilitation. No wonder the recidivism rate in America is so high.
President Trump has made this issue one of his important issues. Jared Kushner has been given the responsibility to push the legislation forward. It passed the House of Representatives back in May with overwhelming bipartisan support. When it reached the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators added some modest, common sense sentencing reform initiatives.
To those who say this is merely an attempt to be weak on crime, Rebecca Hagelin has a response. A very small percentage (14%) of arrests for drug distribution involve major drug traffickers. Most of the arrests (86%) are small-time nonviolent offenders. Many of them are addicts who turned to selling drugs to support their habit. Warehousing them in prison for years at taxpayer expense makes little sense. That’s why it is time for the Senate to vote on this sensible piece of legislation.