Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions pounced on President Obama Friday for commuting the prison sentences of 214 federal inmates, particularly the 56 who had firearms-related crime convictions.
“President Obama continues to abuse executive power in an unprecedented, reckless manner to systematically release high-level drug traffickers and firearms felons. These 214 individuals are not so-called ‘low-level, non-violent’ offenders – which simply do not exist in the federal system,” Sessions said in a statement. “They are serious criminals, including 56 with federal firearms convictions, several career offenders, fugitives, many who violated conditions of their release, and at least one who engaged in witness intimidation.”
Sessions goes on to say, “The President is playing a dangerous game to advance his political ideology. Violent crime has been rising across the country since 2014. And now, according to new data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, thousands of the most violent, federal career criminals are applying for early release in droves because of two recent decisions by the Supreme Court invalidating long-standing criminal laws intended to keep armed felons off of our streets.”
According to a report last month by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Sessions notes the Commission found that “career offenders account for more than 11 percent of the federal prison population, and are ‘increasingly receiving sentences below the guideline range, often at the request of the government.’”
The report also says that career criminals re-offend at remarkably high rates, Sessions adds, with 66.2 percent of those released from prison “between 2004 and 2006 re-arrested for a new crime or violation of conditions of release – many for violent crimes.”
The Commission states that “In fiscal year 2015, just under half (45.8%) of all drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty; however, this proportion was the lowest it has been since 1993, the year in which the Commission began.”
“Meanwhile, President Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to push for so-called ‘criminal justice reform’ legislation that would further weaken penalties for and result in more early releases of federal felons, including criminal alien drug traffickers. Not only are such proposals a thumb in the eye of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court and prison personnel who put time and resources into these cases, but they are ill-timed,” Sessions said.
He added, “President Obama has said he would like ‘criminal justice reform’ to be his ‘legacy item.’ Unfortunately, history and common sense tell us that rushing to release federal prisoners will have long-lasting, harmful consequences, particularly for our nation’s most vulnerable communities.”