Comey Disagreed With Obama on ‘Mass Incarceration’

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Lost amid the hoopla over former FBI director James Comey’s rhetorical war with President Trump while promoting his new book has been his complaints about the term “mass incarceration,” reports Reason. Recalling a meeting he had with President Obama, Comey said he “agreed that the jailing of so many black men was a tragedy,” but told Obama that the term Obama had used, “mass incarceration,” “struck the ears of those of us who had dedicated much of our lives to trying to reduce crime in minority neighborhoods ….(as) both inaccurate and insulting to a lot of good people in law enforcement who cared deeply about helping people trapped in dangerous neighborhoods.”

Comey continued that, “It was inaccurate in the sense that there was nothing ‘mass’ about the incarceration: every defendant was charged individually, represented individually by counsel, convicted by a court individually, reviewed on appeal individually, and incarcerated. That added up to a lot of people in jail, but there was nothing ‘mass’ about it, I said. And the insulting part, I explained, was the way it cast as illegitimate the efforts by cops, agents, and prosecutors—joined by the black community—to rescue hard-hit neighborhoods.” Reason observes that “it strains credulity to argue there’s nothing ‘mass’ about a 500 percent rise in the U.S. prison population over 40 years. This historically unprecedented warehousing of human beings wasn’t an accident or something the country just stumbled into. It was a result of deliberate policies by state and federal officials.” While Comey is correct that defendants are sentenced individually, “there’s nothing individual about the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that lawmakers passed to fill all those new prisons,” says Reason.

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