Civil Rights Commissioner: Cutting Sentences Increases Black-On-Black Crime

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/ Files

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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A member of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights sent a letter to Senators Thursday warning them of an increase in black-on-black crime due to sentencing reform.

“I live in a predominantly black area of inner-city Cleveland. For my neighbors and me, these concerns are not remote. When these men are released from prison earlier than they otherwise would have been, they are coming back to my neighborhood and neighborhoods like mine,” Peter Kirsanow wrote in the letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee has recently approved a criminal justice reform bill that lowers mandatory minimums and will allow convicts have to their sentences retroactively reduced. The bill has 37 bipartisan cosponsors.(RELATED: Criminal Justice Bill Lowers Punishments For Smuggling Drugs In Submarines)

Kirsanow in his letter wrote, “The Sentencing Reform Act is predicated on the belief that rehabilitation is not only possible, but likely. Yet scholarly literature indicates that a person who has been convicted of multiple offenses is always more likely to offend (again) than is a person who has never offended.”

“In a three-year study of prisoners who were released in 1994 conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, ‘67.5% of the prisoners were rearrested for a new offense (almost exclusively for a new felony or a serious misdemeanor), 46.9% were reconvicted for a new crime,’ and 25.4% were resentenced to prison for a new crime.” The member of the civil rights commission wrote.

Much of the effort behind the bill and many of the Obama administration’s policies is based on the disparate impact theory. This is the idea that laws are in effect discriminatory if a certain class or race is disproportionally harmed by them.

“Indeed, the racial disparity in incarceration is widely acknowledged to be the primary motivation for sentencing reform on the Left, and perhaps in some corners of the Right as well. Those African-American men will then return to their communities, which are more likely to be predominantly African-American,” Kirsanow wrote.

He added, “it is therefore likely that the victims of those released early will also be disproportionately likely to be black. This is not surprising – people tend to live in communities predominantly comprised of members of their own racial or ethnic group.”