Did Obama Set Loose Another Willie Horton Last Weekend?


President Obama is hoping there's no Willie Horton among the 6,000 inmates being released early from federal prison, says Politico. It’s a reference to the man who committed a kidnapping while on a prison furlough and helped sink Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign. Reducing the prison population is a key part of Obama's push for criminal justice reform in his last year as president. The people released from Friday through yesterday are not first-degree murderers but they're supposed to be low-level drug offenders. “We're fooling the public when we tell them we're releasing nonviolent drug offenders,” said Steven Cook of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who credits the current system of tough sentences for helping produce downward trends in crime.

“Do I expect kind of nefarious attack ads to come out? Of course,” said Michele Jawando of the Center for American Progress. “We're at a turning point historically. Are we going to do something to fix the problem, or are we going to let fear guide us forward?” The problem is, no one, including Obama, believes they're ready to re-enter society. Nationwide, about two-thirds of former inmates will be arrested again within three years of release. It's hard to get a job as an ex-con, and many states restrict public assistance for felons, so it's easy for them to fall back into crime.

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