Politics & Policy

A New Hypocrisy for the Left on Criminal Justice

(Stephen Lam/Reuters)
Progressive groups oppose a bill to help those released from prison return to society — because it doesn’t also address sentencing reform.

Hypocrisy from progressives is nothing new. Liberals lament the unaffordability of our cities while raising taxes and driving up costs. They champion every form of libertine expression under the sun but recoil from religious expression. In the latest iteration, they are coming out against criminal-justice reform, a cause they claimed to care about for the last eight years.

The legislation at hand is authored by Representative Doug Collins (R., Ga.): H.R. 3356, the Prison Reform and Redemption Act, a bipartisan bill backed by the Trump administration. Based on successful reforms seen in states such as Texas and Georgia, this legislation would strengthen the rehabilitation and training programs in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, increasing the likelihood that once a prisoner is released, he will stay crime-free and remain a productive member of society. It also spares pregnant prisoners the indignity of having to remain in shackles while giving birth.

What fault does the Left find with such a bill?

In a letter to Judiciary Committee leadership in the House and Senate, groups including Human Rights Watch, People for the American Way, Equality California, and the AFL-CIO say the legislation addresses only issues that arise after incarceration and doesn’t address mass incarceration itself, meaning that it doesn’t lighten sentences. Because the legislation does not provide up-front relief to violent criminals and drug traffickers, it is considered insufficient and unworthy of their support.

Sentencing reform is absolutely necessary and a worthy goal, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Crime program, the most successful initiative on the right, has been at the forefront of advocating much-needed reforms. But it is the peak of insanity to undermine tremendous progress because we aren’t getting everything we want.

In an odd admission of the signers’ own hypocrisy, the letter itself highlights the need for rehabilitation and reentry policy reform, both which are addressed in the bill. But it seems that anything short of the leftist utopia of a prisonless society must be opposed, especially if there is political hay to be made in doing so.

They claim the bill “does not go far enough” and is “an insufficient starting point.” Tell that to the mother who has to drive more than 500 miles just to see her son. Tell that to the community that is about have someone return to the streets with no training, no guidance, not even a driver’s license, and simply hope that individual doesn’t return to a life of crime.

We should question why groups such as these are banding together to oppose commonsense criminal-justice reforms. After all, few, if any, of the organizations have an established pedigree of thoughtful policy analysis on the safest, most effective ways to run our prison system. Instead, they are mostly progressive groups that flit from one leftist hobby horse to another, advocating for whatever their funders and agitators have set their sights upon.

These intersectional politics-driven groups would rather oppose a bill that doesn’t check every box on their Christmas wish-list than support one that provides limited reforms that benefit the individuals they claim to care for.

There are opportunities for improvement in the bill’s language, certainly, but the Left’s decision to throw a temper tantrum, like a petulant child, because it’s not perfect is absolute lunacy — and dangerous.

The Left’s decision to throw a temper tantrum, like a petulant child, because it’s not perfect is absolute lunacy — and dangerous.

This should be seen as a clear marker that they would rather play politics with the lives of those in affected communities than make a meaningful difference.

President Obama deemed himself a champion of criminal-justice reform and boasted regularly of how it would aid the black community — and, of course, progressive groups were all on board his agenda. But after implementing only a few watered-down measures, all that’s left of Obama’s justice legacy is a handful of commuted sentences, with several of those released already back in prison.

On the other hand, President Trump and Representative Collins have charted a path to help prisoners put their lives — and their communities — back together. Even incremental changes will have a monumental impact on public safety, family stability, and an individual’s prosperity.

Americans believe in second chances. The most important step toward ensuring that prisoners don’t end up needing third and fourth chances is to provide much-needed training and rehabilitation services while they pay their debts to society. This approach makes our streets safer and our communities stronger. While it is not a silver bullet, it is a major step forward for criminal-justice reform.

The progressive-socialist Left constantly rants about bipartisanship and compromise. They are disingenuous, as their definition of those terms means getting what they want. The Left wants only one solution when it comes to policy: their ideological domination. The liberal-progressive Left has determined that their hatred of President Trump requires resistance to anything, any policy, that is beneficial for the American people.

So ask yourself: Why do “progressives” seek to obstruct progress? An honest and objective answer reveals much about the true intentions of the progressive-socialist Left in America.

Lieutenant Colonel Allen West is a former congressman from Florida and a current senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, leading the Booker T. Washington Initiative.

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