It’s a shame the news media and the American public seemingly have no institutional memory. Laws and policies implemented only a few years ago are somehow viewed by gullible members of what passes for our news media as cruel, vindictive relics of a past when America wasn’t great.
The latest campaign supported by our tabula rasa media and the left is the drive for prison and sentencing ‘reform.’ This leftist initiative against criminal laws passed in the ‘80s and ‘90s bills itself as a humane alternative that will restore ‘justice’ to the system. One of the main goals of this ‘reform’ movement is to remove mandatory sentencing laws that require judges to impose a fixed, mandatory sentence based on the variety and severity of the crime.
The left and the media claim this removes ‘judicial discretion’ in sentencing and doesn’t take into account the surprising number of church choir members, valedictorians, and volunteer elderly aides who are swept into the criminal justice system as Curly used to say because they are “victims of circumstance.”
They are darn tootin’ correct that mandatory sentencing removes discretion from judicial sentencing. Mandatory sentencing came about after voters were sick to death of lenient sentences imposed on hardened criminals by soft–headed judges who either fell for the defendant’s sob story or were friends with the defendant’s lawyer and did them a favor.
Mandatory sentencing was a reasonable response to a lack of justice in the courtroom for victims of crime. An ABC News story from New York provides a perfect example of what we’re writing about.
A 26-year-old school bus driver named Shane Piche starts flirting with a 14-year-old girl who was one of the passengers on his school bus route. Using social media and their encounters on the bus as a means of communication, the predatory bus driver eventually convinces the girl and two of her friends to let Piche pick them up and take the trio to his house.
Inside Piche plied all three girls with alcohol and then raped the 14-year-old.
He was arrested after a brief investigation and that was the end of justice for the girls. The judge using sentencing ‘discretion’ let the rapist plead guilty to a charge of third-degree rape. Then instead of imposing the light sentence the DA asked for — six months in jail and 10 years of probation — the judge let him off with no prison time, ten years of probation and fines and fees of $1,750.
Then in a final insult the judge didn’t require Piche to register as a level 2 sex offender, which he deserved, but instead let him off with level 1 registration that is much more, here’s that word again, lenient.
Patricia Dziuba, the chief assistant District Attorney for Jefferson County, told ABC News, “The judge has a lot of discretion to consider sentencing. We try to minimize the trauma to our victims, and sometimes plea agreements are a part of that.”
There’s a word for that so-called explanation, but it isn’t fit for a family column.
Slap-on-the-wrist sentences like the one pedophile rapist Shane Piche received are why mandatory sentences were instituted in the first place. Any legislation that removes mandatory sentences certainly isn’t a ‘reform’ for victims.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a questsin TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.