On November 1 the largest mass release of prisoners in American history began. Of the total 6,122 federal prisoners to be released into local communities, 1,764 are non-citizens who will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation (at least that’s what we are being told).
This is all part of the federal government’s retroactive sentencing reductions for nonviolent drug offenders program, put into place because of the perception that our drug laws target African-Americans. Eventually about 50,000 prisoners may receive sentence reduction and early release in this controversial program. To compound the problem, the Obama administration is spending $1.7 million on a “re-entry program” to move the criminals into public housing facilities, with no regard to the families or children who may already live there.
The goal is to reduce barriers to public housing, employment and educational opportunities by promoting rehabilitation and reintegration for the formerly incarcerated, the feds explain in an announcement.
As reported by Judicial Watch:
A key component of the program is a joint venture between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help public housing residents expunge or seal their criminal records. The administration considers these “Americans who’ve paid their debt to society” and need the government’s help to “rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities.”
What the Obama administration is really saying is that it doesn’t give a rat’s arse if those drug offenders fresh out of prison move back into their old neighborhoods — right next to a good family needing public housing – and start using again, or worse, start selling. Yes, everyone deserves a second chance, but don’t the kids of the neighbors of these early released drug criminals have the right to a first chance?
If just one of the criminal offenders turns on and sells drug to just one kid, then this program is a disaster (and most likely it will be more than one). According to the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice’s recidivism rates, 76.9 percent of drug offenders who get out of prison are rearrested for another crime (note: these are 2005 figures but the most recent found on the DOJ site).
But, of course, recidivism rates are of no concern to the Obama administration.
A criminal record severely limits a person’s ability to seek higher education, find good employment, and qualify for credit and secure affordable housing, the administration states in its announcement. This creates unnecessary barriers to economic opportunity and productivity for the convicts after they leave jail, and President Obama is determined to ensure those returning from prison become “productive, law-abiding citizens.” His Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, says the DOJ is “committed to giving formerly incarcerated individuals the tools they need to become productive members of society.”
To make this happen, HUD has updated its rules for taxpayer-subsidized housing, basically prohibiting the exclusion of tenants who have been arrested and/or convicted. “…[A]rrest records may not be the basis for denying admission, terminating assistance or evicting tenants…”
And that is not all…the government is also suggesting that the newly released convicts get a free pass if they use the public housing for criminal activity. The revised rules say that HUD does not require the adoption or enforcement of “one-strike rules that deny admission to anyone with a criminal record or that require automatic eviction any time a household member engages in criminal activity in violation of their lease.”
Federal prosecutors have warned that drug trafficking is inherently violent and therefore the phrase “non-violent drug offenders” is a misnomer. The nation’s prosecutors also caution that reducing prison sentences for drug offenders will weaken their ability to bring dangerous drug traffickers to justice.
Look, I am not a criminal justice expert. Perhaps the early release program will work. But why not find halfway houses for these ex-cons to live in? Why is it so important to house them near families?
Here’s a better idea: it will spend taxpayer dollars, but I believe is worth it. Why not build housing for those criminals on the White House grounds? After all, the WH is public housing. Perhaps they could even build the housing facing Malia and Sasha’s rooms? Heck, as a job for the parolees, maybe they can drive the girls to school.
And in January 2017, when we have a new president, we can take down the housing and move it next to wherever Obama moves to – after all, if it’s good enough for the families who live in public-housing, it’s gotta be good enough for Barack Obama.
Cross-posted at The Lid