Thursday, June 2, 2016

Giovanetti on Commutations, Mercy, Reform

Tom Giovanetti is president of the Institute for Policy Innovation and, in a recent editorial, he argues conservatives should "celebrate" President Obama's recent commutations of sentence and simply ditch the notion that the President is another "liberal who is soft on crime."

Giovanetti argues people who "prize liberty and individual rights" and are "skeptical about government power" should be willing to "rethink" our criminal justice system. We have the world's highest incarceration rate, too many crimes have been "federalized" and "excessive punishments are being meted out for non-violent crimes because of mandatory sentencing requirements."

The editorial references the case of Weldon Angelos, who was arrested for selling marijuana and possessing a firearm and - at 24 years of age - was sentences to 55 years in federal prison. Judge Paul Cassell, who had to deliver the sentence because of a mandatory minimum law - "has ever since been pleading for a commutation," since "far worse crimes, such as hijacking, rape, and second-degree murder, have lighter sentences."

Giovanetti adds:
... our justice system should be about public safety first. But all too often it is about careerism, government revenue and corruption. Stephanos Bibas, professor of law and criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, reminds us that “the criminal justice system and prisons are big-government institutions. They are often manipulated by special interests such as prison guard’s unions, and they consume huge shares of most states’ budgets.” 
And finally:
Social conservatives [believe] in the possibility of redemption. Non-violent offenders can be punished and make restitution while keeping families intact and offenders productive. Economic conservatives should recognize that non-violent offenders are better deployed working in the private sector than incarcerated in expensive government facilities. 
See full editorial here.

[The post was visited by the Executive Office of the President of the United States on June 3, 2016]

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