America’s lawmen are livid with President Obama over his administration’s decision to release thousands of federal inmates.
Changes to federal sentencing rules by the U.S. Sentencing Commission allowed 6,112 felons to be released Nov. 1. The Wall Street Journal estimated Oct. 6 that as many 46,000 inmates may be freed in total.
Local sheriffs say Obama assurances that only nonviolent drug offenders are being released is a giant ruse.
“There’s no transition here, there’s no safety net. This is the biggest sham they are trying to sell the American people,” said Sheriff Paul Babeu of Arizona’s Pinal County on Wednesday, Fox News reported. “On average these criminals have been in federal prison for nine years – you don’t have to be a sheriff to realize that a felon after nine years in jail isn’t going to be adding value to the community. A third are illegals and felons, so they can’t work. What do we think they are going to do?”
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The Obama administration says its prisoner release, coupled with “ban the box” executive orders allowing ex-convicts to delay the period of time before they tell federal hiring personnel and federal contractors of their criminal history, will funnel them into productive jobs.
Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, said Monday he does not trust Obama.
“If [the Obama administration is] not capable of making honest and prudent decisions in securing our borders, how can we trust them to make the right decision on the release of prisoners who may return to a life of crime?” Sheriff Eavenson said, Fox reported. “For them to tell me or tell citizens that they’re going to do a good job and these inmates are non-violent, when in many instances drug crimes, drug purchasing, drug trafficking are related to other, violent crimes – I’d be amazed if the 6,000 … being released are non-violent.”
Texas is being asked to absorb 597 inmates into its communities.
Jonathan Thompson, the executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, told Fox the broader concern among the 3,000 sheriffs he represents is the feeling Obama released federal inmates without a strategy.
“I think it’s a larger feeling of unease related to a lack of a plan as it relates to criminal justice, criminal reform and criminal release and I think that’s what you’re really sensing here,” Thompson said. “There are many sheriffs feeling as though the administration will go through the motions of asking the questions but really not care what the opinion or expert advice of law enforcement is.”
Thompson has federal statistics to buttress his concerns: The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports recidivism rates at 68 percent within three years and 77 percent within five years, Breitbart News reported Nov. 2. Its sole mission is to, “collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.”
Kevin Ring, director of strategic initiatives at Families Against Mandatory Minimums, countered the sheriffs’ concerns on Wednesday, telling the network, “Tens of thousands of inmates leave federal and state prisons every week and so there is no reason to be particularly worried about this group. Anyone who says otherwise is appealing to the public’s worst fears.”