November 30, 2012

"Back in 1984, Congress gave authorities the power to let people out of federal prison early, in extraordinary circumstances..."

"... like if inmates were gravely ill or dying. But a new report says the Federal Bureau of Prisons blocks all but a few inmates from taking advantage of 'compassionate release.'"
Michael Mahoney made one of those requests. He was convicted of selling drugs to an undercover officer back in 1984, went to prison, got out and went on to build a new life for himself.

But he bought a gun for protection, not understanding he couldn't have one as a convicted felon. When he reported the weapon stolen, Mahoney was sent back to prison on a mandatory 15-year sentence. Behind bars, he started getting sick: hepatitis C, then non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, with tumors growing everywhere.

"He just wanted to come on home and eat barbecue and, you know, die at home, be in his own bed," says his older sister, Dixie Taylor.

84 comments:

damikesc said...

Being allowed out for "compassion" should be unbelievably difficult to do.

Remember, our Brit friends let the Lockerbie bomber out for "compassionate" reasons and he died real soon after being released...right?

sparrow said...

Shameful, what purpose does it serve to cage a dying man?

sparrow said...

damikesc,

Your example refutes my generalization. Obviously it depends on the case.

Ann Althouse said...

"Being allowed out for "compassion" should be unbelievably difficult to do."

But you'd let Mahoney out, wouldn't you?

damikesc said...

Would I let Mahoney out? Most likely. His situation seems to warrant that type of treatment.

But I don't feel that bad that the process is difficult to work through. It should be. I have little faith that if we made the process even a smidgeon easier that the floodgates wouldn't open.

EDH said...

Shouldn't a 15-year mandatory sentence for gun possession at least be linked to the furtherance of an underlying crime?

ndspinelli said...

I worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are so much more professional than state prisons. However, they don't have a compassion dept.!

ndspinelli said...

Maybe Obama can appoint a Director of Compassion..Susan Rice? I don't think she's gonna be Sec. of State.

ironrailsironweights said...

It is utterly incomprehensible that a convicted felon would NOT know that he is prohibited from owning a gun.

Peter

Matthew Sablan said...

I think our system failed him when he was able to buy a gun, despite not being able to have one. Unless he bought it illegally (I'm not clicking through, so if that is answered there, that changes it.) He should have known he wasn't allowed to have a gun, but he should also, legally, have never been able to acquire one if the gun dealer did the background checks, right?

I'd let him back out in this case. The state let him down.

John said...

Maybe some day we could elect a black President who cares about civil rights and because of his background understands the prison problem in this country.

the wolf said...

Shouldn't a 15-year mandatory sentence for gun possession at least be linked to the furtherance of an underlying crime?

This is my issue with mandatory sentences. Mahoney's circumstances aren't analogous to another felon who buys a gun for purposes of committing a crime.

bagoh20 said...

So all that punishment and no compassion despite the fact he never victimized anyone. There is no reason to separate him from society, and I would not mind one bit if he lived next door to me. His punishment should have been fines only.

MadisonMan said...

Remember that bureaucrats exists only to say No. It's a nice sinecure. You get into your U.S. Sentencing Commission office every day, review the petitions, and stamp No on each and every one. Then you go home.

I'll bet many people in that office are earning more than $100K annually -- before benefits.

LoafingOaf said...

damikesc said...
Would I let Mahoney out? Most likely. His situation seems to warrant that type of treatment.

It only SEEMS to?? I think it screams out....

But I don't feel that bad that the process is difficult to work through. It should be. I have little faith that if we made the process even a smidgeon easier that the floodgates wouldn't open.

I have little faith that the American criminal justice system is legitimate, or even sane, in a supposedly free country when we have 25% of the world's prisoners.


prairie wind said...

People out on parole, on supervised release, or on the sex offender registry can be sent back to prison for the smallest of "offenses." If a sex offender is late registering, back to prison. I read a personal account of a sex offender out on supervised release, unable to live in his own home with his wife because the house was too close to a school (California). So the wife lived in the house, the man slept in their car. He was allowed to come to the house for two hours at a time, once every 12 hours. He came home for those two hours so he could recharge his GPS monitor. He had to park in parking lots that serviced multiple businesses because he isn't allowed to park in, say, the Home Depot parking lot because it is for only Home Depot, not multiple businesses. So he sleeps in his car in strip mall parking lots.

One day, he spent the two hours in his house and then waited outside in the car for his wife to come out so he could take her to work. His probation officer nailed him for staying too long at one address, and it looks like he will go back to prison.

We put people in prison, label them "felon" or "sex offender", and then expect them to live with onerous restrictions when they come out. This guy was in prison to begin with for selling drugs, not a violent offense. He should be allowed to have a gun. And he most certainly shouldn't be sent back for fifteen freakin' years for trying to protect himself.

The Bureau of Prisons has a policy of placing prisoners within 500 miles of family, to make it easier for family to visit but I have heard from many family members who are 800, 900, 1500 miles away from the prison. The BOP runs things their way and it seems they answer to nobody.

SteveR said...

A federal bureaucracy will soon be running our health care system so saying "no" will be pretty easy. What many people fail to see (or choose to ignore) about government run agencies is that civil servants value not getting in trouble above all else (by a long shot) and that means not rocking the boat or taking chances.

Compassion? Really?

Saint Croix said...

I wouldn't have sent him back in for buying a gun. Nothing wrong with buying a gun, and there are lots of legal reasons for wanting to buy one.

phx said...

But convicted VIOLENT felons owning guns? Not so much. Get your a$$ back in the stir.

Saint Croix said...

I like redemption. Once you serve your sanction, you should be redeemed as a citizen. You should be able to vote, and enjoy all the other rights of citizenship, including the right to own a gun. And you should have a fresh start.

I don't like "parole," this idea that we're doing you a favor. Parole is liberal horseshit. You make the sanction for crime tough, so when people commit a crime, they have to pay for it. But when they atone--and by atonement I mean they have served their sentence--it's time to forgive them and make them whole.

fivewheels said...

I'm fully confident that NPR is giving us the whole story, and isn't trying to spin things and withhold pertinent information to make law enforcement look as bad as possible.

I have natural questions from skimming the article. Like why a dying, infirm man would need two men to guard him 24/7 while his legs and arms were handcuffed to a bed. If any of that is true, it doesn't make sense. My gut says to call b.s. on the story.

Larry J said...

MadisonMan said...
Remember that bureaucrats exists only to say No. It's a nice sinecure. You get into your U.S. Sentencing Commission office every day, review the petitions, and stamp No on each and every one. Then you go home.


For a bureaucrat, saying 'no' is far safer than saying 'yes.' If you approve something and it ends badly, you'll look bad. Not that anything bad ever happens when government employees screw up (see: NASA Challenger and Columbia), but it might hurt promotion chances or even require an early retirement. So, denying approval for a new drug is safer than approving it, and denying parole is safer than approving it.

ndspinelli said...

prairiewind, The BOP really does try and abide the 500 mile rule. However, if your family lives in certain parts of the country it's geographically impossible. And, inmates are classified a custody status, minimum-supermax. The higher your risk, the less facilities there are for you. Prison officials like inmates to have family visitors, it tends to make them less angry...depending on the family, of course.

prairie wind said...

I have natural questions from skimming the article. Like why a dying, infirm man would need two men to guard him 24/7 while his legs and arms were handcuffed to a bed. If any of that is true, it doesn't make sense. My gut says to call b.s. on the story.

MY gut says to call BS on the BOP, because "not making sense" is the way they work.

prairie wind said...

ndspinelli, I really hope you are correct. It matters.

edutcher said...

It is, however, easy to see how the system could be gamed.

prairie wind said...

It is, however, easy to see how the system could be gamed.

Yes. A smaller prison population would make is easier to stop the gaming.

fivewheels said...

I should note that I'm not a drug war guy, and I think we should do more to help people become productive post-prison. On the other hand, there's an odor in this story of the old '80s liberalism, of which one of the distinguishing features was that all the compassion was reserved for criminals, and none for their victims and other law-abiding citizens who wanted to be protected from gun-toting drug dealers.

There's a balance to be struck, but I don't think there's much balance in the reporting of this story.

Mary Beth said...

He owned a restaurant/pool hall and thought that because he could have a liquor license after being out of prison for 10 years, that he would also be able to buy a gun after that amount of time.

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/famm/Primer.pdf

Ann Althouse said...

"It only SEEMS to?? I think it screams out.... "

I wouldn't assume NPR is telling us the whole story. There could be significant other facts.

gadfly said...

Then, of course, there is the other side of "compassion."

On June 6, 1986, murderer Willie Horton was released as part of a weekend furlough program but did not return. On April 3, 1987 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Horton twice raped a local woman after pistol-whipping, knifing, binding, and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the car belonging to the man he had assaulted. He was later shot and captured ... On October 20, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge ... refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again."

Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time of Horton's release, and while he did not start the furlough program, he had supported it as a method of criminal rehabilitation.

The infamous Horton ad.

Thorley Winston said...

I agree with fivewheels. I have no reason to think we are being given all of the facts and knowing that the dominant media culture in our country is to promote feelings over reason, it would not surprise me if this turned out to be yet another case of the MSM promoting a narrative that fits their views.

Ann Althouse said...

I wondered how long it would take for Willie Horton to come up. Took more than 2 hours. That surprised me. I would have guessed 2 minutes.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Minimum 15 years is the armed career criminal statute. It takes at least 3 (I think) violent felonies to be a career criminal. So yeah I think PBS is peddling BS.

Having said that, I think our drug laws are insane and it is a right to have a gun for personal protection.

Why are we mad at the BoP when they don't right the laws. Get mad at the politicians who can change the law.

jr565 said...

We let people out early for good behavior. So in theory I'd be ok with letting people out who are about to die. But it shouldn't e that easy to get done and should be limited to people who are nonviolent. Plus, it shouldn't be THAT easy to do.

karrde said...

@Matthew Sablan,

I think our system failed him when he was able to buy a gun, despite not being able to have one. Unless he bought it illegally (I'm not clicking through, so if that is answered there, that changes it.) He should have known he wasn't allowed to have a gun, but he should also, legally, have never been able to acquire one if the gun dealer did the background checks, right?


If he attempted to buy from a FFL-holding dealer, then he should have failed the NICS check.

If he bought in a private-party sale, the seller committed the crime of selling to a convicted felon. And the buyer committed the crime of felon-in-possession once he took possession of the gun.

However, since there is no law requiring any sort of background check for private-party sales. There is also no method allowing non-FFL-holders to get access to the NICS. (Some FFLs will, for a fee, handle the background-check portion of a sale.)

Since the article doesn't say anything other than "he bought a gun for protection", I'm assuming that he purchased from some other gun-owner in a private-party sale.

garage mahal said...

This guy probably would have been better off in some islamic hellhole country.

Land of the free my ass.

Mary Beth said...

He bought the gun from a pawnshop. He had three prior drug convictions for selling meth to an undercover officer.

purplepenquin said...

There are so many wrongs that happened before he ended up dying in prison.

Shouldn't have been locked up in the first place, 'cause being locked up for selling drugs is anti-capitalist and anti-American. Those laws needs to change.

And once he completed his prison sentence, he shouldn't be denied his second amendment rights. If someone is considered too violent/dangerous to possess a firearm, then keep 'em locked up.

Mary Beth said...

He said that the pawnshop owner, who was also a lawyer, told him that he did not need to disclose his prior felonies did not need to be disclosed because they were over 10 years old.

He sold meth to an officer three times in one month, federal prosecutors decided to treat those three sales as three separate convictions.

Both things that I've linked to come from FAMM so they may have left out information that would not help their cause.

damikesc said...

It only SEEMS to?? I think it screams out....

All I know is what was presented. Do I have any expectation of it being a complete and impartial recitation of facts?

Nope.

Freeman Hunt said...

I fail to see the great benefit of drug laws.

Also, I think a former drug dealer probably needs a weapon for protection. Does barring convicted felons from buying guns stop crimes? Maybe it does. I don't know. I'd be mildly surprised if it did.

purplepenquin said...

Both things that I've linked to come from FAMM so they may have left out information that would not help their cause.

FAMM is financed by one of the Koch Brothers, so some folks would say that one MUST be wary of what they say...

phx said...

I've dealt with many many former felons, and I liked and respected a lot of them.

In general however I'd rather give Michael Vick a puppy than give a gun to most of the former felsons I've known. For the most part, former felson are not profiles in responsibilty.

Freeman Hunt said...

A case I know of:

Guy gets caught with meth. Government agrees to let him off if he'll inform on a dealer. Afraid to inform on an actual dealer, he convinced someone at his workplace (and it took a LOT of convincing) to do a deal. Then he turned the guy in. The man who was convinced and convicted had a wife and a family. Now he sits in the state prison, and the original guy is free. Pretty horrible.

phx said...

Figner dylsexia.

phx said...

Then he turned the guy in. The man who was convinced and convicted had a wife and a family. Now he sits in the state prison, and the original guy is free. Pretty horrible.

That is pretty horrible. And I'd say you don't get to carry a gun to protect yourself. You're on your own.

Freeman Hunt said...

When I write "A case I know of," I mean that a family member is the owner of the company where both of these men worked. I've never seen it in the news. Probably one case of hundreds of similar ones.

purplepenquin said...

And I'd say you don't get to carry a gun to protect yourself. You're on your own.

What other basic rights do you think a felon should lose for the rest of their life?

How about voting? Should felons in all states lose their right to vote for life as well? Or going to church? Or making a public speech?

After all....if you commit a crime you should be punished for life and have no more rights, eh?

phx said...

What other basic rights do you think a felon should lose for the rest of their life?

I wasn't clear. I was speaking strictly to Freeman Hunt's example.

purplepenquin said...

I wasn't clear. I was speaking strictly to Freeman Hunt's example

???

So you're saying that only people who get narc'd on for meth should lose their second amendment rights for life, and other felons can still possess/own firearms?

phx said...

I was responding to FH's idea that SOME felons could use a gun for personal protection, and she gave an example of a former felon who definitely has made at least one enemy. My point is that in his case there shouldn't be a carved out exception because he needs to be protected from his enemy. You pay your dollar, you takes your chances in that case. IMO.

As to whether convicted felons in general should be allowed to buy or own guns, I already said what my impression of many such felons is based on my experience working with them (see above comment). That said, I'd be in favor or case by case exceptions or possibly allowing certain classes of felons to own guns.

Now you can beat me up fair and square.

Robert Cook said...

"A federal bureaucracy will soon be running our health care system....".

No, there won't be.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Saint Croix,

I like redemption. Once you serve your sanction, you should be redeemed as a citizen. You should be able to vote, and enjoy all the other rights of citizenship, including the right to own a gun. And you should have a fresh start.

Agreed! Also agreed as to your further comments on parole. If we (as a society) think a crime merits a particular punishment, then fine; but stipulating the punishment and then adding piles of conditions on top of it, as has been done to "sex offenders" in particular, is odious. There are now "sex offenders" who have served their sentences but cannot actually live anywhere short of the middle of nowhere or (literally, in a recent case) under a bridge, because everywhere else is too close to a school, a park, or any number of other "no-go zones." The tale prairie wind tells here is depressingly commonplace.

purplepenquin said...

Now you can beat me up fair and square.

Oh, I ain't lookin' to beat ya up but rather just trying to better understand your POV.

I just fail to understand why someone should lose a basic constitutional right for the rest of their life. If the concern is that these former-criminals will become violent then shouldn't they have remained locked up for life?

cubanbob said...

phx said...

Pretty reasonable point. It's not that difficult to go through life without intentionally violating the law. However with the insane number of laws on the books can anyone say with absolute certainty they haven't inadvertently violated a number of laws?

Baron Zemo said...

purplepenquin said...
And I'd say you don't get to carry a gun to protect yourself. You're on your own.

What other basic rights do you think a felon should lose for the rest of their life?

How about voting? Should felons in all states lose their right to vote for life as well? Or going to church? Or making a public speech?


Oh you mean like the guy who made a video and was put in jail because of a "parole violation?"

I didn't notice you defending his rights there penguin guy.


Freeman Hunt said...

I was responding to FH's idea that SOME felons could use a gun for personal protection, and she gave an example of a former felon who definitely has made at least one enemy.

No, no. Those were two separate thoughts.

(1) I bet of lot of former drug dealers need protection.

(2) That case as an example of drug laws gone wrong.

Baron Zemo said...

Obama can do the right thing and have the video guy released. He already spent a month in jail and that is what you get for stuff like raping nuns and burning down churches and murdering ambassadors.

Or does Obama just want to see another person of color behind bars?

phx said...

If the concern is that these former-criminals will become violent then shouldn't they have remained locked up for life?

Many (not all) of these former criminals ARE violent, or they at least have violent inclinations and violent personalities. You don't spend a lot of time in prison learning to be a better person. You can't keep someone locked up for life just because they failed to be rehabilitated. And you can't put every armed robber in jail for life. That should be obvious. But I don't necessarily want them getting guns when they're sprung.

McTriumph said...

"Being allowed out for "compassion" should be unbelievably difficult to do."

But you'd let Mahoney out, wouldn't you?

I'd let him out, but the article doesn't really give enough info on his criminal past or how long he'd gone "strait".

purplepenquin said...

Oh you mean like the guy who made a video and was put in jail because of a "parole violation?"

I'm not sure what you're talking about...do you?

I didn't notice you defending his rights there penguin guy.

I've never noticed you defending anyone's rights before. Then again, I guess I could just say I've never noticed you before and leave it at that.

Sounds like you have an axe to personally grind with me...what other name(s) might I know you by?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many (not all) of these former criminals ARE violent, or they at least have violent inclinations and violent personalities.

Then those individuals should remain locked up.

You can't keep someone locked up for life just because they failed to be rehabilitated.

I strongly disagree. If someone is considered so violent/dangerous that they must have their basic rights stripped away for the rest of their life, then they should remain locked up until those violent tendencies are curbed.

As it stands now, even non-violent offenders lose their second amendment rights for life. What is the logic behind that?

phx said...

I strongly disagree. If someone is considered so violent/dangerous that they must have their basic rights stripped away for the rest of their life, then they should remain locked up until those violent tendencies are curbed.

By what mechanism could we imprison a violent offender for ten or fifteen years, and then at the end of his/her sentence say "Sorry you can't be released because you're still a damn scary individual."

You can't. But you can, and properly should IMO, prevent them from owning guns.

But I gather you are in favor of allowing any and all ex-felons access to any arsenal that the rest of us are able to constitutionally enjoy. I disagree.

Kirk Parker said...

"If he bought in a private-party sale, the seller committed the crime of selling to a convicted felon"

Not necessarily. The seller needs to have known, or be in the position of should-have-known, that the buyer was ineligible. There is neither requirement nor any mechanism for the seller to do so (e.g. I, as a private party, have no means to access the NICS system.) Lots of people like to require the purchaser to show a concealed weapons permit, but the most you can say is that's better than nothing. Here in WA permits are good for 4 years, and there's little your local Law Enforcement authority can do if your permit is revoked other than ask you to return it. ("Sorry, guys, I lost it." And I can't imagine any judge signing a tear-your-whole-house-apart warrant just so officers can look for your now-ineligible permit.)

prairie wind said...

What is the logic behind that?

Logic? The logic is that legislators must make laws; all the good laws are already taken, so crappy laws on top of crappy laws will have to do.

McTriumph said...

"Like why a dying, infirm man would need two men to guard him 24/7 while his legs and arms were handcuffed to a bed. If any of that is true, it doesn't make sense. My gut says to call b.s. on the story."

It's how it's done. I had a family member serving time in a Fed minimum security women's prison in Illinois for a white collar crime, bank and wire fraud. She was let out to attend her father's funeral. She was cuffed till just prior to entering the church and guarded by three marshals. They shadowed her closely and even entered the restroom stall with her.

Kirk Parker said...


"As it stands now, even non-violent offenders lose their second amendment rights for life. What is the logic behind that?"

Our betters are completely anti-guns-in-the-wrong-hands (which means ours, basically.)

Kirk Parker said...

In case you thought I was making that last bit up...

purplepenquin said...

By what mechanism could we imprison a violent offender for ten or fifteen years, and then at the end of his/her sentence say "Sorry you can't be released because you're still a damn scary individual."

By what mechanism should we release violent people back into society?

If someone is too "scary" to be allowed their basic constitutional rights, then why are they being allowed to walk among society in the first place?

But you can, and properly should IMO, prevent them from owning guns.

I totally understand that you are in favor of stripping their second ammendment rights for the rest of their life, but I'm curious to know if you support criminals losing other basic rights for life as well.

One such example: voting. Some states allow felons (once they are off of paper) to vote, while others ban 'em from doing so for life. Which do you think is the better way?


But I gather you are in favor of allowing any and all ex-felons access to any arsenal that the rest of us are able to constitutionally enjoy

You gather incorrectly and I appreciate the chance to clarify.

I'm saying that it is improper to label any and all felons as so dangerous that they must have basic constitutional rights stripped from 'em for the rest of their life...especially given how many non-violent crimes result in felony charges.

I'm also saying that if an individual is considered too violent to possess a firearm then they are too violent to be walking around free.

Mamie said...

Freeman Hunt said...

I fail to see the great benefit of drug laws.

Sweden disagrees.

They went from having very liberal drug policies to their current very repressive policies. Their level of drug use is now lower than that in other European countries and North America.

phx said...

By what mechanism should we release violent people back into society?

If someone is too "scary" to be allowed their basic constitutional rights, then why are they being allowed to walk among society in the first place?


The criminal justice system does this all the time. Violent people are released because they have done their time and haven't acted on their violent impulses. If you do your ten years, twenty years, AFAIK there is no psych test give before you are released. Extremely violent people are released from prison every day into our communities because there is no legal remedy to prevent that. Can you propose one?

Because if you don't, and you allow ALL ex-convicts the right to own guns, you are going to have a lot of legally armed bad guys out there.

I'm in favor of allowing all ex-convicts the right to vote. As I said I'm also open to letting some classes of felons the right to own or buy firearms. I definitely don't have a problem restricting certain classes of felons from owning firearms.

And I can live with it if people who feel as you do win the day and all felons are allowed to buy and guns. I'm just not sure you know what you would be getting all of us into.

damikesc said...

But you'd let Mahoney out, wouldn't you?

As I said...based on what is presented here, yes.

I wouldn't make any decisions based on a presentation from a party that seems quite interested in a specific case.

prairie wind said...

And I can live with it if people who feel as you do win the day and all felons are allowed to buy and guns. I'm just not sure you know what you would be getting all of us into.

Don't we already have that situation? Ex-cons convicted of violent crimes can buy guns. Not legally, but they can buy guns. So we already have ex-cons walking around with guns.

phx said...

Don't we already have that situation? Ex-cons convicted of violent crimes can buy guns. Not legally, but they can buy guns. So we already have ex-cons walking around with guns.

One of the things the current gun restriction on felons do is that they allow law enforcement to tag some really bad guys on the gun law. The Mahoney case isn't right because allegedly the guy's been an upstanding citizen. But a lot of these creeps are involved in bad stuff while remaining untouchable. The gun laws make them touchable.


prairie wind said...

I know we are all supposed to admire the the feds for finally bringing down Al Capone on tax law violations but wouldn't you rather law enforcement do a better job? I don't want guys like Mahoney sent back to prison for having a gun...just because someone wanted a law to make the untouchable more conveniently touchable.

While the world is quite certain that Casey Anthony killed her daughter, the fact is that the prosecution could not prove it. So they lose, as they should. Laws like Caylee's Law, where we could have nailed Casey Anthony for something if only this law had been in effect, are rotten laws. They are written with a vague idea that they will come in handy at some point to catch the un-catchable bad guy and in the meantime, other folks like Mahoney get tripped up by the crazy laws.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
phx said...

I understand the rising tide of opinion from both sides against my position.

I would only add that IMO the majority of felons being released from prison are, while often well-intentioned, very dangerous individuals who are being released into an environment where their prospects for employment and decent housing are slim to none. Many of these people are already hardened and angry. They will in a lot of cases be very very suprised and to learn how little support they will get when they are released. Make it okay for them to own a gun and you will have a very volatile situation on your hand in many instances.

If you want to advocate for ex-prisoner's rights, I suggest greater spending (ha!) and support for them when they return to society, including subsidized employment and training opportunities. Many of these people badly need counseling as well. Getting bent out of shape because they are disenfranchised from their 2nd amendment rights does them practically little good. Advocating for jobs, training, counseling and a little compassion would probably be better IMO.

prairie wind said...

I would only add that IMO the majority of felons being released from prison are, while often well-intentioned, very dangerous individuals who are being released into an environment where their prospects for employment and decent housing are slim to none. Many of these people are already hardened and angry. They will in a lot of cases be very very suprised and to learn how little support they will get when they are released. Make it okay for them to own a gun and you will have a very volatile situation on your hand in many instances.

If you want to advocate for ex-prisoner's rights, I suggest greater spending (ha!) and support for them when they return to society, including subsidized employment and training opportunities. Many of these people badly need counseling as well. Getting bent out of shape because they are disenfranchised from their 2nd amendment rights does them practically little good. Advocating for jobs, training, counseling and a little compassion would probably be better IMO.


phx, you are correct about the unfriendly, unwelcoming environment for felons.

Instead of spending more money on ex-cons, how about if we incarcerate fewer people? Let's stop putting people in prison for non-violent crimes. Then we would have fewer after-incarceration problems to worry about. And that spending you talk about...private spending or government spending? Private, please. The government already has its fingers in too many pies and in too many pockets.

You say the majority of felons released from prisons are "very dangerous" people. Do you have numbers to back that up?

Freeman Hunt said...

They went from having very liberal drug policies to their current very repressive policies. Their level of drug use is now lower than that in other European countries and North America.

Sweden's culture is totally different from our own though. They look at the state differently, and they place a high value on social conformity. People here may place a high value on social conformity within their groups, but we're split into groups that value entirely different things. In my town, you could take, say, only white males in their thirties, and you'd be able to divide them into groups that each wanted to conform to different ideals.

Here we have lots of illicit drug use and lots of violent crime associated with the drug trade. Sweden doesn't have either.

phx said...

You say the majority of felons released from prisons are "very dangerous" people. Do you have numbers to back that up?

No I don't, I shouldn't have said that. My information is strictly anecdotal.

I also favor incarcerating fewer people, and I'd start with reforming the drug laws. For starters I think we should legalize marijuana.

Mamie said...

Here we have lots of illicit drug use and lots of violent crime associated with the drug trade. Sweden doesn't have either.

Not sure that's correct.

You should read some of the popular Nordic noir novels, like those of Jo Nesbo; they show a Sweden with a large drug sub-culture, a lot of drug-related crime, and a growing unassimilated immigrant population. All of it causing problems with that "ideal" Sweden we all remember from around 40 years ago or so.

Anyway, some interesting comparative crime stats here.

phx said...

Of course, the recidivism rate shouldn't be hard to check. I'll bet dollars to donuts it bears out what I've been saying.

Andy Freeman said...

> I think our system failed him when he was able to buy a gun, despite not being able to have one.

...but he should also, legally, have never been able to acquire one if the gun dealer did the background checks, right?

You're assuming that background checks work, that is, identify convicted felons. They have tons of false negatives and false positives. (But, they'll get healthcare right.)

The other problem is that if the background check had tagged him, the attempt is a parole violation.

> The state let him down.

Say it ain't so!

leslyn said...

prairie wind said,

Let's stop putting people in prison for non-violent crimes.

What do you suggest we do with fraudsters and thieves? Forgive them?

"A man can steal more money with a briefcase than he can with a gun."

See how it feels to have your home burglarized while you are asleep.

The effect on victims is violent, even if we don't call crimes violent.