Sentencing Policy Invites Controversy Over Criminal Justice

A federal agency has reportedly granted judges a new ability to lessen sentences for prisoners should existing laws change.

According to Roll Call, the newly set rule, greenlighted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, offers new guidelines for how federal judges can interpret the First Step Act, a huge bipartisan initiative passed in 2018, during the Trump era.

Certain federal prosecutors have spoken out against the proposal, asserting that the commission is exercising power it does not have and is not strongly considering the impact such a rule can bring on public safety.

“Federal law mandates a statute expressly provide for retroactive sentencing adjustments,” Steven Wasserman, president of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, reportedly said to the commission earlier this year. “It is the role of Congress to decide if a sentence can be adjusted by a change in the law, not the sentencing commission.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) both reportedly cautioned against the guidance, telling the commission that it would get in the way of upcoming legislation aiming to lessen prison sentences.

Roll Call states that Grassley was a top Republican in efforts to get the First Step Act passed in 2018.

Many have expressed concerns that this new policy will lead to a massive uptick in violent criminals being let out on the streets, potentially worsening public safety. As senior editor of TheBlaze Dan Horowitz noted, criminal defense attorneys could potentially use the new rules to slam prosecutors with cases, potentially leading to paltry defenses of the ongoing punishments.

Horowitz has commented on crime numerous times. In a February episode of the “Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz,” the longtime Blaze writer and radio host opined that if hardened violent criminals remained locked up, there would be an approximate 90% reduction in crime seen nationwide.

TheBlaze’s senior editor, who himself is not a fan of the First Step Act, pointed out that an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times found that numerous judges were okaying the commutation of sentences for various career criminals, including even top gang leaders.

What is the main culprit in this? The bipartisan First Step Act, according to the report.