May 10, 2016, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today in the following statement urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to publicly release the revised version of the “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015,” responding to a recent characterization by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) of the revision that “We ensured that violent criminals, and those who have been hardened by a life of crime, will stay in prison while addressing the ballooning prison population”:
“The Senate Judiciary Committee had this big press conference on April 28 announcing revisions to legislation that will result in thousands of federal prison inmates being released early, but so far, it has been hidden from the public. News outlets are reporting on the revisions, senators are talking about the revisions, but the revisions are nowhere to be found on the Internet making verifying claims made by proponents of the bill impossible. It’s time for the Senate proponents of what has been called the ‘jail break bill’ to show their work rather than relying upon a lazy media to just mouth their words without validating their truthfulness.
“Based on what we know right now, violent criminals will only be barred from leaving prison early if it was a so-called ‘serious violent felony’ under federal law, meaning sentences that carried a maximum of 10 years or more. Everybody who committed assault that carried a maximum of less than 10 years, including under state laws, would remain eligible for early release. Was that fixed, or not? If not, then Senator Cornyn should stop saying that it was when nobody can verify that’s even true.
“Under the current version of the bill publicly posted on Congress.gov, violent felons are indeed still eligible for early release. The current language would have still let Wendell Callahan, the suspect in the Columbus, Ohio brutal triple murder of a mother and her two young daughters, leave prison early for his drug release under the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act that was retroactively applied by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Callahan had committed felonious assault in Ohio in 1999, but because it only carried a maximum five-year minimum at the time, it is not considered a ‘serious violent felony’ under federal law, and he still would have been eligible for early release under the new bill.
“Meaning that under the mass prison break bill, violent criminals, and those who have been hardened by a life of crime, will not stay in prison, they will be leaving prison early, and based upon recidivism studies of those previously released early, more than a thousand real people will be assaulted or killed as a direct result of this legislation. Senator John Cornyn needs to come clean and show the public the ‘compromise’ so there can be an honest debate about the consequences of the legislation.
“Ironically, the only thing we know for certain about the new, ‘improved’ legislation’s impact on the criminal justice system is that Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer refuse to consider including a common sense provision that would protect those who unwittingly failed to follow one of the hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations promulgated by Obama from being jailed.
“Senate proponents need to release the new criminal justice language and allow the media and others to review and ask critical questions about its impact. After all, they had a press conference, the least they can do almost two weeks later is show the public their work.”
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