Law Enforcement Braces Itself For Release Of 6,000 Federal Inmates

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Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Six thousand criminals are about to be released early from federal prison this weekend as a result of an additional amendment from the Sentencing Commission and law enforcement is already bracing itself.

“Well, 6000 is the initial release. The overall plan is 46,000 to be released. I have a real problem with it at a time when we are struggling in law enforcement and this complicates our job that much more,” Pinal County, Ariz. Sheriff Paul Babeu told The Daily Caller. According to Babeu, the administration already released felons into his county two years ago.

“Here in Arizona, specifically, this administration has released countless criminals into my state and into my county and refuses to tell me where they have been released to, their full criminal history and their names,” he explained noting that almost a third of those already released are not American citizens.

“They released close to 500 in my county and two were charged with murder. We had over a dozen that were convicted with sexual assault and rape. I had asked for their names and they denied me.”

The administration says the felons who are being released are all low-level non-violent drug offenders. However, House Judiciary Committee Chairman [crscore]Robert Goodlatte[/crscore] writes in an op-ed at National Review that the pool of offenders includes “serious violent felons and criminal aliens.”

In early 2014, the Sentencing Commission adopted an amendment to lessen the sentences for certain drug-trafficking and distribution violations. As a result, Goodlatte notes, it included “trafficking offenses that involve drug quantities substantial enough to trigger mandatory minimum sentences.”

The Commission made the reductions retroactive so, “tens of thousands” of federal inmates have applied for early release in their courts of jurisdiction. However, the sentencing commission’s changes on drug sentencing mandates do not consider a felon’s criminal history.

“Consequently, criminals set to be released into our communities as a result of the Sentencing Commission’s amendment include inmates with violent criminal histories, who have committed crimes involving assault, firearms, sodomy, and even murder,” writes Goodlatte.

The push to release the felons is part of the administration’s criminal justice reform agenda. Both Democrats and Republicans are crafting criminal justice reform legislation from Capitol Hill, but Republicans are beginning to feel pressure from conservative activists who are equating participation in the process of criminal justice reform with taking responsibility of potential future consequences.

Back in May, conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter took issue with Republicans who support ending mandatory minimum sentencing and criminal justice reform legislation.

Coulter writes, “Our pro-criminal media invariably cite the conviction of record, as if that’s the worst crime committed by the defendant. But, as the Times itself reports: ‘97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains.’”

Do you think criminals are pleading guilty to the most serious offenses they’re actually guilty of?

Defense attorney: The prosecutors want to charge you with murder one, menacing, drug possession and distribution.

Criminal: OK, I’ll plead to murder one.

Defense attorney: No! We’ll offer to plead to possession of marijuana.

Criminal: Oh! OK, OK, I see — yes, you’re right

House Judiciary Committee member California Republican Rep. [crscore]Darrell Issa[/crscore] appeared concerned that the president’s release of the prisoners will hurt the criminal justice reform legislation both Republicans and Democrats are putting together.

“When you look at the actual releases they do include violent offenders. Criminal justice reform is not helped by an administration that is taking arbitrary action. Criminal justice reform is bipartisan. We want to address the hodge-podge of mandatory minimums,” Issa told TheDC.

“We want to address prison industries and work programs and education programs. It really is time to refine the system, but its not well done by the executive branch simply releasing people,” the California Republican said.

Babeu says the federal government released three criminals in one day in his state. According to Babeu, one was convicted of aggravated assault and the other two were convicted of murder. They originated from Sudan, Iraq, and Russia.

“That murderer from Russia was released into my county and [the federal government] told me only two weeks after they released him. This guy had stabbed another person in the chest, while he was with two other Russian gang members and while [the victim] was still alive they doused him with gasoline and lit him on fire and tortured him ’til his death.”

House Speaker[crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore], a supporter of the criminal justice reform legislation has not made any statements about the mass felon release. Ryan Press Secretary Ashlee Strong told TheDC, “He’s still reviewing the action.”

Sheriff Al Cannon of Charleston County, South Carolina, agrees with Coulter, telling TheDC, “I don’t know anybody in law enforcement that’s happy about it. You don’t end up in federal prison for minor offenses. You’ve gotten there as a result of pleading down from something more serious or a more serious offense.”

Cannon says he is also not given the heads up by the federal government if released inmates will be in his county.

“We’re not given the heads up as far as I know. My sheriff’s office has not. I asked the federal probation office what kind of heads up they got—I wouldn’t be surprised to find they have very little if any heads up. The whole deal is problematic from my stand point,” he said.