Tell ‘em it ain’t so Joe

By: 
Dan Hammes — St. Maries Gazette Record
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Joe Biden embarrassed himself again. But in what may be a first, this time it’s not for what he said. It’s for what he didn’t say.

Politicians of all stripes have chattered incessantly of late about “non-violent” offenders who are serving long prison terms. The way the story goes, the politicians claim there was some miscarriage of justice to have these people serving such long prison terms. Their answer, inevitably, is to let the people out of prison.

Ok. Maybe. But like so much of what politicians say, there is a lot more to the story.

To say it another way, while these speeches make great sound bites, they lack context.

And keep in mind, this is not limited to one breed of politicos. President Trump led the charge on changing federal law to allow for the release of people convicted of drug charges. But in addition to Republican support, Democrats endorsed the idea of freeing these “non-violent” offenders.

All this bi-partisanship delivered tingles to reporters’ legs everywhere.

For whatever reason, reporters love bi-partisanship. The euphoria of all that bi-partisanship could be why nobody stopped to question the premise that racism is the reason for these long prison terms.

Or it could be that reporters are just lazy. You decide.

It’s been some 25 years since the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. Given that, people might be excused for forgetting the outrage from the people who lived in the midst of the crack wars.

It was that outrage — not racism — that produced the long prison terms.

Remember this all happened during the term of America’s “first Black president” Bill Clinton. And it happened slowly — which, despite what you hear from the gun-control crowd today — is a really good feature of our form of government.

The point being is that these long prison terms for drug traffickers were not a knee-jerk reaction from politicians. They were the product of a long, deliberative process.

After a long slow decline, violent crime started to rise sometime around 1983. In the early 1990s, what had been a slow increase in violent crime, became a rampage.

Many people — most who were parents — believe it was the rise of crack cocaine trafficking that brought the crime. They wanted it stopped. So, after study, politicians acted. In 1994 Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, a crime bill.

It is this bill for which Joe Biden gets spanked today.

When you hear the Leftists seeking the Democratic nomination ripping into Joe Biden about “filling prisons with non-violent offenders” the crime bill is the reason. But when it comes to the 1994 crime bill the liberal-set omits one major detail.

It worked.

Drug traffickers were sent to prison, violent crime dropped and the crack cocaine wars slowly subsided. In fact, the African-American murder victimization rate was cut in half between the early 1990s and 2008.

Supporters of the crime bill, which includes African American parents and leaders of black churches, will tell you crime dropped because criminals were in prison. While that makes all sorts of sense to most people, the liberal-set will never acknowledge that keeping criminals in prison reduces crime.

But Joe Biden should.

He may not be the most glib of candidates, but certainly he remembers the history and reasons for the crime bill.

And yes, things today have changed. Today people debate — well, not all people, but the new Left in the Democratic Party certainly does — whether drug traffickers should be imprisoned. 

But in 1994 there was no debate. Parents wanted to save kids — mostly young black kids — who were victims of the crack cocaine wars.

Now, 25 years later, chances former drug traffickers released today return to the drug trade are slim. 

But — 25 years ago — if those same people had been released, they most likely would have continued to traffic drugs and the misery and death that trade with them.

Joe Biden made the right vote in 1994. Instead of apologizing, he should say that.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dan Hammes is publisher of the St. Maries Gazette Record in north Idaho.

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