Eric Holder isn’t using prison reform as a means to rehab his image
Why Go Easy on Junkies? Part II
Presidential requests for commutations, pardons, etc. are kept in special jars on scary political shelves. When the fingertips of any administration brush past – let alone stop and try to open one – all speculative hell breaks loose. For all the wrong reasons, the ability to grant clemency is a highly controversial presidential power. And the media would go thermonuclear if it was somehow applied to nonviolent drug offenders en masse. At the mere mention of such a thought crime, I can just picture the faces of tough-on-crime congressional desk pounders in Washington melting, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style.
Public opinion, too, would no doubt have Vietnam-era draft-dodgers faring better in the polls than “those people” locked behind modern day prison bars, especially after so many years of Americans hoping they can incarcerate their way out of crime.
I can hear it now: “We can’t fix healthcare, but on whim we let murders ‘outta prison by the busload?”
I vote we avoid such shortsightedness as we sort through those hot potatoes inevitably left out of the Attorney General’s otherwise groundbreaking speech. Besides, where’s the mystery? The prison industrial complex is massive, and it’s dependent on the excessively long sentencing of young, strong, worker bee inmates. It will resist reform more vehemently than a cat being held over a bathtub. So if Holder omitted from his speech a statement about a topic that would send conservatives into a tailspin as soon as the president’s hands touch one of those special jars, big deal. The fight over Obamacare would pale in comparison. And besides, the speech was well crafted and widely shared without it. So I say that, for now, let’s give this particular beleaguered bureaucrat credit for using his position to defend both taxpayers and those trapped in a cycle of drug addiction and recidivism.
Not everyone will benefit from the outset, regardless of how long they’ve been stuck in prison. But it’s a little early to point fingers at who’s not doing enough, or which (as of yet nonexistent prison reform law) fails to measure up. Nobody’s rooting for bureaucracy. We’re just lookin’ at one giant mountain here, yet Holder managed to get the media, politicians, and the public to turn their collective necks in a direction that will allow more and more of us to recognize the increasingly large, legally discriminated-against underclass of felon Americans created by excessive prison sentencing and mandatory minimums.
I’d say that’s a damn good place to start.