The Problematic FIRST STEP Act Gives Leniency To Child Pornographers [VIDEO]

The Problematic FIRST STEP Act Gives Leniency To Child Pornographers [VIDEO]

The Problematic FIRST STEP Act Gives Leniency To Child Pornographers [VIDEO]

President Trump swung his support behind the FIRST STEP Act this afternoon. The legislation, which was stalled in the Senate, now has a very strong chance of passing. At first glance, a criminal justice reform bill sounds great! However, once one drills into the details, the FIRST STEP Act has some big problems.

What are some of the proposed prison reforms that the act espouses?

  • Bans the shackling of pregnant and postpartum women
  • Ensures people are placed in facilities within 500 driving miles from their families
  • Creates an Earned Time Credit system that allows people to earn 10 days of credit for every 30 days of programming and shorten their time in prison to be served instead in halfway houses, home confinement, or on community supervision
  • Compels the BOP to match individual needs to programs, training, and services, so that men and women return home job-ready
  • Provides an ID card for every person when they are released
  • Brings home 4,000 people *immediately* due to retroactive Good Time credits.

Sentencing reforms proposed are:

  1. Free judges from handing down disproportionate sentencing (i.e. 924(c) Stacking)
  2. Lower lifetime mandatory minimum sentences for people with prior nonviolent drug felony convictions to 25 years, and reduce 20-year mandatory minimum sentences for similar offenses to 15 years
  3. Apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduces the disparity between cocaine- and crack-related offenses retroactively
  4. Expand exceptions to the application of mandatory minimum sentences to more people with criminal histories

Sounds nice doesn’t it? However, the devil is in the details. Powerline Blog’s Paul Mirengoff has done some extensive research.

About those mandatory minimums:

This provision means that left-liberal judges, including a great many Obama-appointees, will be able to put dangerous federal felons back on the street much earlier than is allowed now, and than would be allowed even under the new regime of reduced minimums.

It was the leniency of liberal federal judges that helped produce the crime wave of the 1970s and 1980s, to which mandatory minimums were a response. Can we expect the current federal judiciary to be tougher on crime and less sympathetic to sob stories by felons than the judiciary of 30 to 40 years ago?

Paul doubts it, and so do I given the political grandstanding stunts that more than a few judges have done these last couple of years.

Then there’s the issue with the “Good Time” credits:

FIRST STEP provides for the early release from prison for those who obtain “credits.” The legislation does exclude some categories of felons from eligibility. However, as we have seen, in the case of those convicted of gun crimes and selling fetanyl, there are loopholes that would render many such felons eligible to get out of jail early.

The same is true for child pornographers. The relevant language appears in the exclusion list — i.e., the list of people ineligible for early release credits in one section of the bill. It reads:

A second or subsequent conviction under any of paragraphs (1) through (6) of section 2252A(a), relating to certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography.

(Emphasis added)

This means that the exclusion from early release only applies to second-time offenders. First-time child pornographers are eligible for early release. They would be eligible to have up to one-third of their prison sentence knocked off.

Yes folks, you read the above correctly. If child pornographers can get those so-called “Good Time” credits, so can sexual predators, child molesters, rapists … this leniency legislation is so full of loopholes it’s a sieve!

I believe the President and the Senate need to slow their roll on this legislation. 

Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

The loopholes that will allow criminals such as child pornographers to go free and continue to inflict their evil on children should be a major cause for concern. Furthermore, ARMED criminals are not excluded!

But the exclusion applies only if (1) the criminal has already been convicted of the same section (or an equivalent crime at the state level); and (2) the criminal has been able to “meaningfully participate” (whatever that means) in recidivism reduction programming during each of his prior gun convictions.

Those are some grade A prime loopholes folks!

This legislation, if passed, will create more problems than it will solve. Can we afford this kind of ‘reform?’ No.

Feature Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

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2 Comments
  • GWB says:

    Well, I’m thoroughly against most “good behavior” credits. You’re sentenced for the crime you committed, not for your recalcitrance in prison. And I’m thoroughly for mandatory sentences for multi-offenders (particularly if any of them are violent).

    It was the leniency of liberal federal judges that helped produce the crime wave of the 1970s and 1980s, to which mandatory minimums were a response.
    Yep. I really hoped I wouldn’t live long enough to see the 70s return, but here they are – culture, fashion AND crime.

    If child pornographers can get those so-called “Good Time” credits, so can sexual predators, child molesters, rapists
    Ummm, that wasn’t what the quote you used said. It said “child pornography” and that was it.

    give former inmates a second chance at life after they serve their time
    I agree with that. But Not before they’ve served their time.

    I’ll mention again my concept of a good justice/prison system:
    – Those convicted of property crimes get a minimum sentence and a restitution* sentence; once they have provided restitution and served their minimum, they get out. Some measure of parole proportional to their minimum sentence is applied.
    – Those convicted of a crime against persons have an appropriate “restitution” amount applied, on top of a mandatory sentence that is much longer than for a property crime. They are still required to serve both sentences before being freed. Parole for a minimum of 5 years is mandatory.
    – Rape and murder (murder, not manslaughter) are mandatory death sentences, with a set period for appeals. Conviction requires “two witnesses” minimum – material evidence and/or eyewitnesses. Circumstantial evidence is not adequate.
    – Anyone found to have falsely (not mistakenly, but falsely) accused or prosecuted someone for a crime, when found guilty (and there is NO sovereign immunity for this), is sentenced automatically, to the maximum sentence available for the supposed crime – including death. Restitution is applied for the original crime, AND for their attack on the innocent. Parole is doubled where applicable.
    – Prisoners work. If they don’t work, they generally can’t pay the restitution, and therefore, don’t get out of prison. They also get no perks. They get a gruel of all the essential vitamins and calories necessary to survive, nothing more. Prisoners can allocate their pay chits to restitution (with a minimum requirement), food, or leisure activities (like gym time).
    – Rehabilitation should be handled (outside of the work and obeying the rules – a YUGE part of rehabilitation) by private charities. The State’s job is justice, not mercy.
    I don’t have an answer on drug users, but the current process isn’t working.

    (* Restitution is easy for a property crime: cost of stolen items/funds (unless returned in same condition), plus a penalty (paid to the victim – Leviticus makes it 20% where it applies) and court costs. Crimes against persons would require some sort of system that I’m sure would get abused. Not sure how to make that work well.)

  • Ron says:

    I would like to think that being pregnant or just having a baby would lower a woman’s ability to harm a law enforcement officer making shackling them unnecessary, but I have 3 children and know better.

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