The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal interviewed Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Critical of President Barack Obama, tough on crime, and a strong advocate for his fellow law enforcement officers, the sheriff is well-known for his no-holds-barred views on the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The sheriff is also critical of a bipartisan so-called criminal justice/sentencing reform bill working its way through Congress that purports to reduce sentences for non-violent criminals, among other things.
Sheriff Clarke pointed out three lies associated with the bill. The first lie is that it involves only low-level, non-violent offenders.
“There are not enough people in our prisons, either state or federal, that if we release those, it wouldn’t even put a dent in the population,” he said. They’re going to have go beyond that and release some high-risk, dangerous criminals back into the communities.
“Lie number two is that it will reduce crime. It will not reduce crime. If we looked at California, which is on this same sort of initiative with Prop. 47, it released 14,000 from the state prisons. And in that time (only two years), crime has gone up in 10 of the largest cities in California by over 10 percent. And the same with property crimes. Nine out of 10 of the largest cities have seen an increase in property crimes.”
Lie number three is that criminal justice reform will reduce costs.
“At best, it will shift the cost from the federal government back down to the states,” the sheriff said. When the released criminals go back to their states and re-offend, they start over again in the state system. Crime increases, and states will need more law enforcement officers and more prosecutors. Even if the released criminals end up on probation, the state will bear the costs.
Sheriff Clarke said he’s using the California reform bill as an example, because it’s similar to the federal bill and sold with the same sales pitch: non-violent offenders only, reduced crime, and reduced costs. California’s corrections costs have gone up $2.5 billion.
Sheriff Clarke said he’s trying to “present the counter-narrative. Put out the facts. I can’t figure out when coddling criminals, and where having empathy and sympathy for the hardened criminal, is a conservative issue.”
Do we have too many people in prison who shouldn’t be there? Watch the brief clip for Sheriff Clarke’s answer.