If you think Attorney General Jeff Sessions is freedom-trampling, liberty-loathing tyrant, just wait until you see who fellow tyrant Donald Trump nominated for the Sentencing Commission. Bill Otis is possibly the worst selection that Trump could have possibly made.
“Two facts about crime and sentencing dwarf everything else we’ve learned for the last 50 years,” Otis said at a 2014 Federalist Society gathering. “When we have more prison, we have less crime. And when we have less prison, we have more crime.” Keep in mind, according to the government, many victimless crimes carry minimum sentences, and because of that, we’ve got a major prison over-crowding population in “the land of the free.” Otis has been a vocal proponent of mandatory sentencing for such “crimes.”
Below is a helpful image for everyone who seems to have trouble grasping the concept that in order to have a crime, there must be a victim.
According to Reason, Otis’ appointment to the U.S. Sentencing Commission—a bipartisan, independent agency within the judiciary responsible for articulating federal sentencing guidelines—drew reactions of horror and condemnation from criminal justice advocates. “Bill Otis is a terrible choice,” says Jason Pye, the vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, a conservative organization that has supported criminal justice reform. “Really, anyone who approaches criminal justice policy with an antiquated worldview is a bad choice for such an important post.”
Jonathan Blanks, a research associate at the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, says Trump’s nomination of Otis “signals another step back into the discredited ‘tough on crime’ policies of the 1980s.” Blanks continued saying, “Otis’s support of lengthy mandatory minimum sentences is outdated and counterproductive to effective criminal justice policy,” Blanks continues. “If confirmed, my hope is that Mr. Otis makes himself familiar with the reams of data that undermine his previously expressed positions on the efficacy of mandatory minimum sentencing.”
Adding more confusion to this choice is Otis’ previous statements that the Sentencing Commission, for which he’s just been nominated, be abolished entirely. “Pending repeal and replacement of the [Sentencing Reform Act of 1984], Congress should abolish the Sentencing Commission,” Otis testified at a 2011 House Judiciary Committee hearing. “By far the most important purpose for which it was created no longer exists—to write binding rules for district courts to use in sentencing. It does have some secondary functions—for example, to study possible statutory improvements, as well as gather and publish statistics about sentencing practices—but when its core function has been demoted to making increasingly ignored non-rules, it’s time to turn the page.”
As a lengthy 2015 Slate profile explained, Otis believes that giving judges leeway to depart from mandatory minimum sentences is just a way to coddle violent criminals. And when that happens, his tyrannical logic goes, crime rises.
Reason pointed out that Otis has warned time and time again over his career that criminal justice reforms would lead to chaos in the streets. However, Julie Stewart, the founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, wrote in Reason in 2015, that he has been wrong over and over again. For example, when Congress reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, Otis predicted the bill, which he dubbed the “Crack Dealers Relief Act,” would result in “misery” once thousands of crack dealers would be “put back on the street prematurely.”
Fortunately for those of us concerned about public safety, Otis was wrong again—amazingly wrong. Since passage of the [Fair Sentencing Act (FSA)], the crime rate, the prison population, and crack usage are all down! It bears repeating. Otis said the changes would cause “misery” and “inevitably lead to more crime.” Instead, while thousands of offenders have received fairer sentences, the crime rate has fallen, crack use is down, and taxpayers have saved millions from being wasted on unnecessary prison costs.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission found that crack offenders who got shorter sentences because of the FSA reoffended at slightly lower rates than crack offenders who served their full-length sentences. Again: less prison time, more public safety.
“Otis is impervious to facts and evidence,” Warren concluded.
Isn’t Jeff Sessions enough of an authoritarian? Apparently, not for the Trump administration, as this guy is on his way to actually enact even harsher punishments for “crimes.” Does anyone really still believe they are free?
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