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Friday, October 7, 2016
The myth of the nonviolent drug offender
Obama has commuted the prison sentences of 774 criminals, more than the past 11 presidents combined, as part of his program to review the sentences of "non-violent drug offenders" in federal prisons who had received lengthy prison sentences for drug convictions. This is wrong and will encourage more drug selling and use.
If you are in a federal prison for a drug conviction, then you were a seller, and usually a seller of large amount, and probably a repeat offender.
But more importantly, there is no such thing as a "nonviolent drug offender" if you are a seller.
Maybe the offender did not use violence when selling drugs, but that does not make it nonviolent. The act of selling drugs is violent because the user may now become dependent, may die from an overdose, and may commit crimes such as burglary and robbery to obtain money to buy drugs.
The act of selling drugs causes a multiplier effect on the commission of crimes. The buyer may likely commit crimes to obtain money to buy. The distributor to the seller most likely committed crimes to obtain the drugs to have the seller sell. The sellers do not pay income tax on the income from the sale of drugs. And if the seller is in prison, then that means he has not cooperated fully with the police to supply the names of his suppliers. The seller is a vital cog in the drug distribution system.
From personal experience as an attorney in a large city, those in jail for drugs are sellers, not users, and sellers who are repeat offenders. One of our judges said that about 80% of the criminal cases in our county are drug-related such as selling and using, and crimes to obtain money to buy, and shooting during a sale of drugs. This does not even take into account the effects of the use of drugs on one's ability to work and maintain a family, and the effect on one's health and health costs.
These offenders were sentenced according the sentencing guidelines, the recommendation of the U.S. attorney's office, and any recommendation by the appropriate probation office. Obama now substitutes his judgment for the judgment of the prosecution and the sentencing judge. This is another example of Obama ruling by executive decrees.
Obama is sending the wrong message to sellers and users of drugs by commuting sentences, and worse, by referring to drug dealers as "nonviolent" criminals. Tell that to the family of those who die of overdose of drugs bought from these "nonviolent" drug dealers.