So the President of the United States is now in the prison over-crowding business. In an effort to "relieve" prison over-crowding at the federal level, prisoners are being released and their sentences commuted if it is believed by our administration that they have been punished too severely for what they say is a "non-violent crime", specifically drug law violations. If you listen to the far left extremists, the media and most opportunistic antagonists in this country you would be led to believe that we have incarcerated for way too many years prisoners whose only crime is being hooked on drugs. Their position is that we are wasting far too many tax dollars to house these prisoners when all they need is help rehabilitating from their dreadful habit. Many of these groups are of the belief that these prisoners were unfairly or unjustly punished way beyond their crime proving once again that the system of justice in this country is somehow biased against certain people. Most of us with law enforcement or judicial system backgrounds know the truth. Most citizens rely on what the media presents which more often than not is either a half truth or a complete embellishment or lie. Allow me to provide some perspective to exactly who our President is releasing.
First of all, we need to start by dispelling a myth; there are absolutely ZERO prisoners in the federal prison system serving time for simple possession of narcotics. Not one! You cannot go to federal prison for getting caught smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine, smoking crack, shooting heroin or popping pills. There are no mere recreational drug users serving time in federal prison. To listen to the media you would think that federal prisons are full of poor, destitute, homeless addicts that don't have the money to pay for a lawyer therefore are being scooped up and sent off to prison with no chance to win. They would have you believe the judicial system is further enhancing their plight and these folks are being railroaded. Poppycock!
Federal Court jurisdictions in this country are limited to the number of cases they accept every year. For instance, Federal Courts have jurisdiction over bank robberies as the government insures holdings through FDIC. Bank robbers are charged under state statutes but not all defendants are prosecuted federally. Federal drug charges usually result from international or interstate sales, extremely large enterprises or those offenses that also involve a gun which would violate federal laws. Each federal jurisdiction "cherry picks" if you will and leaves those cases they deem not worth their time to the state courts. So you see, federal prisoners are special prisoners whose crimes have distinguished them from the rest of the criminal and drug dealing population.
Those serving federal time for "drug dealing" are also far from destitute at the time of their arrest. Many times federal prisoners have had houses, cars, furniture, rental property and large sums of cash confiscated as evidence of their crimes; yes, they were living very large off their "ill gotten gain". Federal prisons are not housing the "dime bag" corner street merchant who gets to keep one bag as pay for every four he sells. These prisoners are the big boys, the ones sitting on top of the pyramid and they didn't get to the top by being polite, shy or introverted. For every life they may have threatened or harmed in person there are hundreds if not thousands more they have harmed indirectly. Of all the prisoners in this world that we could have compassion for, this bunch ain't the ones.
Next myth; drug dealing is a "non-violent" crime. Poppycock just won't cut it here. Drug dealing by nature is violent in that is causes physical damage to every customer. The mere act of the customer "using" the narcotic sold causes damage to the physical being of the user. We always hear about destroyed lives, fractured families, devastating effects on children but no one emphasizes the physical damage incurred by the human body every time a controlled substance is used or abused. Throw in the job "hazards" that accompany the trade ( you might just get shot!) and the subculture that relies on threats of violence to gain compliance and it defies logic and common sense that anyone can call the crime of "drug dealing" non-violent with a straight face. Federal prisoners serving time for drug dealing usually have a conviction at the state level for violent crimes such as assault. Guns, threats, assaults; not exactly the tools of building community harmony.
According to the United States Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (bjs.gov), in 2012 approximately 4% of all prisoners in the state prison systems were serving time for drug possession law violations. That number is consistent across all demographic categories for total state prison populations ( white 4.0 %, black 4.0 %, hispanic 4.2%). These numbers also include drug dealers, manufacturers and conspirators; again, not weekend reefer smokers. The continuous misdirection accusing the judicial system of sentencing drug addicts to long prison terms by the media and extremists is preposterous. Somehow accurate information needs to reach the masses whether the prison system or law enforcement publishes it because the media simply will not act responsibly and report the truth.
Are there people serving unjust sentences; I have no doubt that there are. Are federal prisoners convicted of drug dealing overwhelmingly over-sentenced for their crimes? Absolutely not. When you consider the violent nature of the business, the physical damage inflicted by their product, the threat of violence used to coerce obedience to their will and their taking advantage of addicts or young people to sell their wares and provide a shield from law enforcement for themselves, I believe their sentences are not long enough. No drug dealer enters the profession without knowing if he gets caught he goes to jail. When he does go to jail and gets released he certainly doesn't expect not to go back if he gets caught again. The consequences are very clear. There are no federal convicts languishing in federal prison sitting in there cells opining "man, I didn't know".
I wonder why they aren't releasing embezzlers?