Bernie Sanders’ Mass Release of Inmates is Insane



We strongly support the discussion of alternatives to incarceration, and reviews of sentencing policy. We are equally supportive of adequately funded offender reentry programs.

But Mr. Sanders pledge to release hundreds of thousands of state prison inmates will cause incalculable harm to American society. Not only is it ridiculously harmful; it’s also wildly unconstitutional considering that the president has no direct authority over state correctional systems.

His Pledge:

“Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton spent several minutes agreeing with each other last night in a debate about holding police officers accountable for criminal misconduct, getting rid of racial disparities in sentencing, and bringing down the prison population.”

On the last point, Sanders trotted out the promise that by the end of his first term, the U.S. will no longer be the world leader in incarceration.

“What Sanders means by this is that under just four years of his leadership, the U.S. will bring down its jail and prison population by about 600,000 people. Where does that figure come from? Consider that the No. 2 spot of countries right now is China, with 1.66 million behind bars. The U.S. has about 2.3 million.”

Department of Justice Following Prison Releases for Three and Five Years:

An estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison, and three-quarters (77 percent) were arrested within five years, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

More than a third (37 percent) of prisoners who were arrested within five years of release were arrested within the first six months after release, with more than half (57 percent) arrested by the end of the first year.

During the five years after release, prisoners in the study were arrested about 1.2 million times across the country.

Repeat Offenders:

According to the US Department of Justice:

77 percent of felony defendants have at least one prior arrest and 69 percent have multiple prior arrests. 61 percent have at least one conviction and 49 percent have multiple convictions.

35 percent of those charged with felonies have 10 or more prior arrests and another 17 percent have between 5 to 9 arrests, thus 52 percent of charged felons have been arrested and before the courts many times.

40 percent of those charged with burglary and motor vehicle theft have 10 or more arrests. 30 percent of violent offenders have 10 or more prior arrests.

40 percent of all felony convictions serve time in a state prison and 55 percent of those convicted for violent felonies serve time in state prisons.


 If 77 percent of offenders released from state prison are rearrested in five years and 69 percent have multiple prior arrests, then conservatively we can count on a minimum of 1,200,000 felonies, the vast majority within the first year of release (based on 600,000 prison releases).

We know the figure will be much higher. A reasonable guess is that it could go to 4,000,000 felonies, possibly higher based on the facts that most crime is not reported, and most reported crime does not end up with an arrest.

The detrimental impact on society, cities, neighborhoods and our economy is beyond calculation. The physical and physiological harm to victims, the majority in low-income communities, will last for generations.

What Mr. Sanders is suggesting is taking struggling communities and greatly threatening the well-being of all who live there, which doesn’t seem very progressive to us.




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