So much for criminal justice reform

So much for criminal justice reform

by digby

I think this might depress me as much as anything Trump's done. And that's saying something:

Before President Trump picked him to be part of a federal commission that sets policy on how to punish criminals, William Otis spent years staunchly advocating for harsher penalties and a larger prison population.

In several public testimonies and years of published commentary, Otis decried a criminal justice system that he says has favored criminals over victims. He hailed the tough-on-crime approach of the Reagan and Bush administrations — one that Trump, through his attorney general, is resurrecting. “Increased use of incarceration and reining in naive judges,” he once told NPR, “has worked” to curtail crime.

Otis’s appointment, which the White House announced Thursday, is another sign that the Trump administration is restoring the 1980s and 1990s war on drugs that incarcerated many minority defendants and overcrowded the country’s prisons. Last May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences — a move that Otis praised.

“It was right then and it’s right now,” Otis wrote on a popular legal blog. “It amounts to telling prosecutors to charge what the defendant actually did. This is so obviously correct — aligning the allegations with the facts — that I have a hard time seeing any serious objection to it.”

Otis’s nomination was met with criticism from advocacy groups. In a statement Thursday, Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, called Otis’s views “outdated.”

“This is not a person who will be guided by evidence and data. The Senate should reject this nomination,” Ring said.

In a short email to The Washington Post, Otis said he is honored “to have been selected for this important position by the President” and declined to comment further. The White House and Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Otis, a former federal prosecutor who’s now an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University, is perhaps also best known in the legal community for his commentaries on the Crime and Consequences blog, which describes itself as the voice that represents the “perspective of victims of crime and law-abiding public.”

Some of his writings are racially tinged. One example is a 2013 post titled “The PC Attempt to Intimidate Judges.” Otis defended a judge who was criticized for saying that minorities are more violent than white people.

“Thus, when Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones said at a University of Pennsylvania Law School talk that blacks and Hispanics are more violent than whites, a consortium of civil rights organizations filed a complaint,” Otis wrote. “The complaint calls for stern discipline on the grounds that the remarks were ‘discriminatory and biased.’ ”

He added, “So far as I have been able to discover, it makes no mention of the fact that they’re true.”

Scroll down to the comments section of that post, and you’ll find that Otis talked about Asians, too: “Orientals have less incidence of crime than whites. … The reason Orientals stay out of jail more than either whites or blacks is that family, life, work, education and tradition are honored more in Oriental culture than in others. Values, not race or skin color, influence choices.”

In some of his posts, Otis also sarcastically referred to offenders as “Mr. Nicey.”

“Mr. Nicey might consider quitting the smack business and getting a normal job like everybody else,” he wrote in a post praising Sessions’s directive to federal prosecutors.

I'm sure Trump would love this guy if he ever heard of him. They're soul mates. But this is a Sessions move. He and the boss may be on the outs but that doesn't mean they don't see eye to eye on race and crime. It's what drew them to each other in the first place.

We were on the verge of making some real progress with criminal justice reform until The Miscreant showed up. The libertarians on the right had finally shown they had some decent purpose in life and it appeared that some common sense had finally prevailed in this one corner of American politics.

Now this. We're back to the antediluvian eye-for-an-eye philosophy, informed by the kind of rank racism that filled out prisons in the first place.