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Reflections


Helping the Downtrodden?

by Ralph R. Reiland,
Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University
 

"Unfairly targeted" and "disproportionately punished" appears to be the final rallying cry of the Obama administration — sort of like a grand finale after a prolonged series of duds.

As the administration's attempted vote-solidifying storyline goes, America's cops are unduly targeting communities that are disproportionately populated by members of the nation's most historically oppressed constituency, aiming particularly at young males, while teachers and school administrators, allegedly employing the same racially-prejudiced and gender-biased approach, are disciplining and expelling the nation's students of color in disproportionate numbers, primarily males, for supposedly no good reason.

Continuing down the same path of purportedly righting the nation's racial wrongs, thousands of drug dealers are now packing up and prematurely leaving the nation's prisons as the Obama administration plays a supersized get-out-of-jail-free card by implementing the nation's largest mass release of federal prisoners, while, simultaneously, guys who landed too many flounder are being hauled around in handcuffs to serve lengthening jail sentences.

"Last week the administration started releasing the first wave of 6,000 drug convicts who will get out of jail early," recently reported Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based educational foundation that promotes accountability in government via investigations and public outreach ("Feds Send Man to Jail for Overfishing as 6,000 Drug Convicts are Freed," November 2, 2015).

"In all, about 50,000 prisoners are eligible for early release and federal authorities claim they're all 'non-violent' offenders whose sentences were too long in the first place," reports Judicial Watch. "Federal prosecutors have warned that drug trafficking is inherently violent and therefore the phrase 'non-violent drug offenders' is a misnomer."

In 2010, President Obama signed a measure "that for the first time in decades relaxed drug-crime sentences he claimed discriminated against poor and minority offenders," Judicial Watch reports, while "the U.S. Sentencing Commission lowered maximum sentences for drug offenders and made it retroactive."

Eric Holder, President Obama's first Attorney General, a top force behind the sentencing reforms, lobbied for more lenient drug penalties that he claimed would block the justice system from unfairly targeting minorities and the poor.

Anthony Joseph, the Long Island commercial fisherman referred to in the aforementioned Judicial Watch report, got into a boatload of trouble by allegedly catching and keeping too many fish and then lying about it to the central authorities by "systematically underreporting fluke."

At the end of October, Mr. Joseph was sentenced to seven months in prison, a $603,000 fine and an additional three years of supervised release following incarceration, according to a Department of Justice announcement describing his punishment for "fluke overages."

Mr. Joseph's sentencing was only a few days from when NYPD Officer Randolph Holder's name was added to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the tally of the 101 police officers who have died in the line of duty so far this year in the United States.

"A career criminal was charged late Wednesday in the fatal shooting of an NYPD officer during a gunfight on a pedestrian bridge after stealing a bike," reported CBS New York.
Police said Tyrone Howard, charged with first-degree murder and robbery, shouldn't have been on the streets in the first place.

"Howard had been arrested 28 times," once for "allegedly shooting an 11-year-old," reported CBS, in addition to being wanted for a September shooting in Manhattan and being sentenced to state prison twice since 2007 for drug possession and drug sale convictions.

Last year, Tyrone Howard was placed in a drug diversion program meant to spare jail time for drug offenders to ease jail overcrowding.
And so, the end result for the poor, delivered via a flawed prescription intended to expand justice, equality and fairness — deadlier neighborhoods, worse classrooms, and more overdoses.
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Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, a columnist with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the owner of Amel's Restaurant in Pittsburgh.
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Ralph R. Reiland

Phone: 412-884-4541
Email: rrreiland@aol.com

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