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Is Sen. Chuck Grassley the biggest hypocrite of all time on crime and drugs?

Conservative Review

Imagine Jeff Sessions one day waking up and promoting open borders and then criticizing Ted Cruz for continuing to fight for border security. Or imagine one day Elizabeth Warren decides to support repeal of Obamacare and lambasts Bernie Sanders for continuing to fight for socialized medicine. Well, that is how zany, capricious, and unfathomable Sen. Chuck Grassley’s sudden flip on crime and drugs is in the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been so vociferous in his quest for jailbreak that he has thus far opposed the House-passed back-end jailbreak bill because it did not contain the front-end jailbreak provisions of his bill that he shepherded through the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley and every liberal on that committee voted to retroactively release gun felons and drug traffickers – the most violent people around – the day after the Parkland shooting. Parkland itself is a legacy of the burgeoning “avoid jail time for juveniles at all costs” movement reflected in Title II of this bill.

Last Thursday, Grassley had the gall to criticize Sessions for merely maintaining the position they both had held for years and the essence of what the president campaigned on:

As late as March 10, 2015, Grassley referred to this very bill as “Orwellian,” promoted by “the leniency-industrial complex” simply “as a matter of ideology” because “facts do not matter to them.”

Then, stupefyingly, he introduced an almost identical bill with the very same talking points he lambasted just six months later.

Isn’t it time someone called out Grassley for his incomprehensible flip on this issue? Fairly recently, Grassley delivered floor speeches cutting down every straw-man argument used to support this bill and the movement behind it. Let’s use Grassley’s own words. I couldn’t have said it better myself:

The notion that federal drug traffickers are nonviolent

Supporters of the bill say it allows for shorter sentences only for “nonviolent offenders.”  That term “nonviolent offenders” is highly misleading.

First, that phrase conjures up people in jail for simple possession. But this bill does not apply to simple possession at all, for any drug.

Second, the types of offenses the bill applies to are violent. Importing cocaine is violent. The whole operation turns on violence. Dealing heroin also involves violence or the threat of violence.

Third, the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced might have been violent. The mandatory minimum sentence would be cut even if the criminal’s co-defendant used a gun.

Fourth, the criminal himself could have a violent history. …Supporters of the bill never acknowledge that it would apply to drug dealers with a history of violent crime. (April 8, 2014, floor speech criticizing the Smarter Sentencing Act)

The notion that giving more discretion to liberal judges will result in “smarter” sentencing

And don’t pay attention to the smokescreen that the bill leaves the maximum sentence alone. Judges are not sentencing anywhere near the maximum today. The whole point of the bill is to allow judges to ignore current mandatory minimums for serious offenses like heroin importation and cocaine dealing, and sentence defendants to half the minimum they are now receiving.

We know from the experience of the states that when mandatory minimum sentences are reduced, judges use their greater discretion only to sentence the same or more leniently, even when the drug offender has a history of violence. (April 8, 2014, floor speech criticizing the Smarter Sentencing Act)

When supporters of this bill discuss how it increases discretion for judges and keeps current maximum sentences, what they really mean is that judges will gain discretion only to be more lenient. The bill does not increase discretion for judges to be more punitive. (May 13, 2014, floor speech criticizing the Smarter Sentencing Act)

The notion that we lock people up with no programs

I do not agree with him that prisons today “warehouse and forget.” All kinds of programs and incentives exist for prisoners today to improve their behavior when they are released. Sentences can be shortened by completion of these programs. And I don’t think that the solution to a cycle that ends in incarceration is simply to incarcerate criminals for less time or to jail fewer criminals. (September 17, 2013, floor speech defending mandatory minimums from the assault by then-Attorney General Eric Holder)

The notion that too many people get the mandatories

Mandatory minimum sentences are not new. The first Congress enacted mandatory minimum sentences in 1790. Nor are they as inflexible as they are often characterized. According to the Sentencing Commission, almost half of all offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum sentence are not given such a sentence. We hear over and over that mandatory minimum sentences are one size fits all. We hear that low level and first time offenders always receive harsh sentences. Not so. The safety valve provision requires judges not to impose mandatory minimum sentences for first time, low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, who have provided all information to the authorities. Mandatory minimum sentences are not imposed on many other offenders because they provide substantial assistance to the government in prosecuting more serious criminals. (September 17, 2013, floor speech)

Under federal sentencing law, those who are low-level offenders avoid mandatory minimum offenses. Just under half of all drug courier offenders were subject to mandatory minimum sentences, but fewer than 10% received mandatory minimum sentences. One reason for the difference is that offenders who cooperate in prosecuting high level drug conspirators avoid the mandatory minimum sentences. (March 10, 2015, floor speech)

The notion that too many people are in prison for drugs

Supporters of the bill also raise the argument of prison overcrowding. But prison populations in this country are decreasing and have been decreasing for several years. States have been able to reduce prison construction and sentencing as crime has fallen. As Charles Lane wrote in the Washington Post, one reason states could do this is the reduction in the fear of crime that has accompanied falling crime rates.

The rate of increase in federal prison populations has fallen a great deal. In recent years, the number of new federal prisoners receiving prison sentences has declined. New policies the Department has adopted with respect to clemency and its unwillingness to charge defendants for the crimes they have committed will only further reduce overcrowding and prison expenses.

It is also important to recognize that drug offenders are an increasingly small proportion of the new offenders who are being sentenced to federal prison as federal law enforcement shifts more resources away from drugs and toward immigration and weapons offenses. (May 13, 2014, floor speech criticizing the Smarter Sentencing Act)

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