The Senate approved on Tuesday the most substantial criminal justice reform legislation in a generation. The bipartisan bill, known as the FIRST STEP Act, will shorten some unnecessarily long federal prison sentences and enforce rules that will improve conditions for people currently in prison.
Amazingly this shows the Democrats and Republicans can still work together to pass good legislation, at least during a lame duck session. Who would have ever believed that? It’s like the 1970s all over again. Well not quite. A government shutdown is looming over a border wall to keep nonwhites out of the country to make the Republican base happy.
Activist: Hey, this federal three strikes you’re out law is unjust. Someone who gets arrested the third time on federal charges of marijuana and having more than they say you should have for personal use gets sent to prison for life now.
Senate: Ok, we’ll do this sweeping criminal justice reform. We’ll reduce that to 25 years. Aren’t we cool? Aren’t we just a bipartsian dream?
Activist: Can’t you do more?
Senate: We’ll make it so religious fundamentalists can go into the prisons to run the programs for the prisoners and we’ll make it harder for some inmates to get time off for good behavior!
Activist: Say what? I meant can you do more that helps reform things.
Senate: Ok, we’ll stop chaining women up in prison when they are birthing children and we’ll give them tampons and sanitary napkins for free instead of charging them. Isn’t that significant?
Activist: What about reducing drug charges, decriminalizing (at least) marijuana, ending the for profit prison system and the for profit system of prisoners (actually their innocent families) having to buy basic necessities even in publicly owned prisons?
Senate: (laughs) Oh, you radical dreamers. We’re not going to reduce charges or lower minimum sentences- but we will give some judges a little more discretion in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ in those minimum sentences.
Activist: So, you’re saying you’re not changing that it’s the luck of a roll of the dice what kind of judge the convicted gets?
Senate: (laughs) There you go again. This hardly affects anyone in our system. It only affects Federal prisoners. Most prisoners are in state or local systems and we didn’t do anything about them.
Activist: But you could have, like the Clinton crime bill did, using incentives. Of course that made things worse.
Senate: You are crazy. Look, we’re not really interested in real reform or taking away the profit so many good elites are making off the war on drugs. We’re only interested in the good publicity. Why all the liberal blogs and media will be all thrilled over this and thus we’ll inoculate the sheep out there from any threat of real reform.
The Republicans created the War on Drugs as an effective means of eliminating political enemies (i.e. hippies, Black Power, Brown Power) then made sure LSD and crack made their way into the urban centers in copious amounts to destroy political will (see Gary Webb of the San Jose Murcury News) then began mass incarceration/prison building under Ronnie Reagan/Bush the Greater, all the while successfully smearing Democrats as “soft on crime” more or less forcing Clinton to continue mass incarceration. And now, appearing theroes, Trump will take credit for (window dressing) prison reform with a complicit corporate mass media spreading the bullshit thick and wide.
Perfect!! I was going to comment that this article doesn’t tell us a thing about what this Bill actually does (or doesn’t) do.
It was because this article didn’t tell us beans that I wanted to do my own research. It was because the bipartisian consensus and the mainstream corporate owned media were so glowing about it that I did that research with a healthy does of skepticism.
Most people in this country don’t do their own research. (I suspect most here at CD, whatever political view they hold, are much more likely to do their own research.) In fact most people in this country don’t even bother to read articles beyond the headline and maybe the first paragraph.
It only takes a handful of moments to do one’s own research and I actually enjoy it, despite the fact it means I’m much more of a cynic.