The Democrats may have just come up with the worst criminal justice reform proposal in American history.
During a recent CNN town hall, Senator Bernie Sanders, the socialist millionaire, argued that violent criminals and domestic terrorists should have the right to vote in U.S. elections while they’re still in jail.
“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they’re going to be punished,” the presidential candidate said. “They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That’s what happens when you commit a serious crime."
"But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy," the lawmaker continued. "Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away ... you’re running down a slippery slope ... I do believe that even if they are in jail, they’re paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.”
No, this is not a fictional quote from The Onion — Bernie Sanders actually said that domestic terrorists, murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals should have a say in determining the rules that govern our society.
Remarkably, Sanders isn’t the only Democrat who supports this madness.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, both of whom are trailing Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, have also flirted with the idea of allowing prisoners to vote, arguing that it’s worth having a “conversation” about extending the franchise to the incarcerated.
Harris, a former prosecutor whose job it was to put criminals behind bars, quickly backtracked on that idea after contemplating the dark implications of this frightening proposal — according to the latest data from the Prison Policy Initiative, there are more than 1.6 million convicted criminals in all U.S. prisons, including 164,000 rapists and 183,000 murderers.
Since around 75 percent of federal prisoners are U.S. citizens, it’s reasonable to estimate that Sanders’ proposal would apply to at least 1.2 million local, state, and federal inmates still serving time behind bars, including hundreds of thousands of rapists and murderers.
Terrorists and other violent criminals are in prison for one reason and one reason only — they refused to abide by the laws we’ve established in order to promote a harmonious society.
Allowing inmates — who, by definition, have not yet repaid their debt to society — to participate in the political process would be like trusting mass murderer Charles Manson to play in an arsenal.
Letting inmates vote is not a serious prison reform proposal — it’s an attempted power grab by a Party that is justifiably confident that its policy positions will appeal to people who disdain the rule of law.
If the Democrats were truly serious about criminal justice reform, they would be looking to build on the model pioneered by the FIRST STEP Act that President Trump signed last year, which carefully balances the interests of both prisoners and law-abiding citizens.
When Donald Trump set out to fix our criminal justice system, he focused on creating programs to rehabilitate inmates and prepare non-violent criminals to lead productive lives after they’re released, which also greatly reduces the risk that they will re-offend.
Rather than pretending that criminals are simply entitled to participate in the society they spurned, the FIRST STEP Act gives them a chance to earn that right, and offers them support along the way.
Any responsible prison reform initiative must serve the common interest of the entire country. The Democratic proposal to give terrorists, rapists, and murderers a chance to hijack our future, however, would do just the opposite, benefitting criminals at the expense of law-abiding citizens.
Short of abolishing prisons altogether, it’s difficult to imagine a more counterproductive approach to criminal justice reform. The Democrats have become the party of free stuff for illegal immigrants — medical, education, housing — and now they are giving free passes for the worst criminal offenders in our society — just to get a few more Democratic votes.
As New York City’s 40th Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik was in command of the NYPD on September 11, 2001, and responsible for the city’s response, rescue, recovery, and the investigative efforts of the most substantial terror attack in world history. His 35-year career has been recognized in more than 100 awards for meritorious and heroic service, including a presidential commendation for heroism by President Ronald Reagan, two Distinguished Service Awards from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and an appointment as Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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