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Columns : The Federal Voice

Releasing the Lions

Last month the president commuted the sentences of 46 federal drug offenders, and the public will pay in blood and tears for that decision.

August 20, 2015  |  by Jon Adler

How does President Obama show his respect for the risks you face while investigating and apprehending drug traffickers? He commutes the sentences of 46 drug traffickers.

The president says these poor misguided souls received unfair sentences, are nonviolent, and cost the government too much to incarcerate in overcrowded prisons. So on

July 13, he used his presidential powers to free 46 of them.

The answer to prison overcrowding is not to let these peddlers of death roam free. As Steve Cook, president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys notes, "More than 15,000 convicted drug traffickers will be released from federal prison over the next two years due to recent amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines." So why the urgent need for the president to commute the sentences of these 46? What was so extraordinary about these prisoners? Perhaps the insight and perspective of the arresting law enforcement officer for each of the 46 should have been considered before the president made his decision.

In a July 13 Wall Street Journal article titled, "Obama Cuts Sentences of 46 Drug Offenders," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston asserts too many "nonviolent" drug offenders have been incarcerated too long. He wrote, "These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the president is committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system." In pursuit of making the criminal justice system more fair, the president has opted to ignore the real risks and danger presented by drug traffickers. Instead, he chooses to perpetuate a narrative that these felons are harmless hippies.

Did the president's staff perform the due diligence to conclude that these 46 convicted peddlers of death are nonviolent and unfairly sentenced? It doesn't look like it. To date, we haven't seen a credible risk assessment for each of the 46.

Did the president or his staff consider why the vast majority of drug arrests are not done via voluntary surrender? Drug traffickers are by necessity violent. Their crimes yield death in the form of overdoses, street crimes by users who need money to buy drugs, and bullets sprayed in turf battles.

In reading the scorecards for each of the 46, we see either conspiracy or actual distribution charges. In some instances, a firearm was involved. What's missing from these scorecards are the drugs involved and the weight. We also don't see anything to substantiate that each of the 46 had no gang or organized crime affiliation. In a House Judiciary Committee press release dated July 14, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and 18 other representatives raised important questions regarding the president's actions and asserted the "President's pardon power has been used to benefit specific classes of offenders, or for political purposes." The committee members also directed nine questions to the attorney general, asking for information that should be used to assess the severity of the 46 felons' prior acts and their propensity for violence. These questions represent the due diligence that should have been done prior to the president commuting these sentences.

Did the president have options other than simply letting 46 convicted felons free? How about reducing their sentences? How about electronic monitoring and home confinement? And why were only four of the 46 drug traffickers freed women?

If you want to be fair as well as consider risk, women are often coerced into drug trafficking and generally are not as violent as men. Yet only four women made the president's cut? If the president's decisions were truly risk-based and fair, the list should have included more women. Instead, we're left with the sense that whichever trafficker's attorney got the clemency paperwork submitted the quickest won the sentence commuting lottery.

So how would the president resolve an over-crowding problem at a zoo? With limited space, rising labor, and lodging costs, which animals would the president let go? Using the president's methodology, the lions would likely be set free. Why? They eat the most food and therefore cost the most to maintain. During the 10 years of their captivity, they haven't eaten anyone or attacked their handlers. They have no known affiliation to any violent lion groups. They are totally safe to release into the public.

The president's rationale for release of these federal prisoners does not benefit the American public, nor keep it safe. We may not have a perfect justice system, but I think cops, prosecutors, and judges overall tend to get it right. Releasing these peddlers of death and turning America into a buzzed "udopia" is a slap in law enforcement's face.

Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Jon Retired LEO @ 8/20/2015 7:56 PM

Excellent column Mr. Adler. I always enjoy hearing your point of view. Makes me feel better to know that some of the Federal Officers are not happy with this magic quick release system either.

Kojack58 @ 8/21/2015 4:26 AM

I served in the U. S. Navy for 20 years active and 12 years reserve time. I have witnessed the drug traffic, I have chased trafficers through the jungles in P.R and have inspected boats for bombs with my MWD. They are not afraid. We busted a small cargo vessel along with ATF, DEA USCG and the Customs agency. the repatriated the crew to their South American countries. Four months later I had to check another boat for bombs. They brought the captain of the boat to the pier to see if he got shakey. It was the same man that they had arrested four months earlier. He went away the second time to GTMO because of AK-47's on board. Wake up Mr. President and smell the stuff you have been shoveling.

kevCopAz @ 8/21/2015 7:25 AM

Great article and valid points. A good investigative journalist will take up this investigation, contact the arresting officers & prosecutors and gather a file and summary on each subject. Let the public know all the facts. My guess then the President will have egg on his face of allowing violent and dangerous Lions out to hunt the sheep once again. Hopefully these folks will be tracked by media and when they re-offend (and we know that they will) then this too is news worthy. Even after Obama is gone (prise the Lord).

Emrys @ 8/23/2015 5:04 PM

Mr. Adler, you are the quintessential drug warrior and your ilk has wrecked enough havoc on our society. The drug war has been the most costly and ineffective social policy enacted in the last 50 years. Costly and destructive to everyone except those who, like you, who are poised to profit monetarily off the whole drug-war regime. That is, police and prison guard unions, private prison corporations, and others who scrape money out those unlucky enough to be saddled with an addiction that society has deemed illegal. There are plenty of other addictions just as harrmful, or even more so, than the ones Congress and the DEA have deemed "dangerous" and hence criminal. Sir, drug addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. There isn't as much money in it, but you and your union members should go back to getting rapists and murders off the street and leave the drug addicts to the medical & mental health professions.

[email protected] @ 8/23/2015 10:54 PM

Gee guys, I don't remember reading or hearing about this on our upfront and honest media. Do you think maybe this pos in the white house is planning on retiring to South America? Why wasn't this made public by the LEO Unions? I'm so sick of this assh*le it's not even funny. Blues, Stay Safe.

BruceD1776 @ 8/25/2015 1:38 AM

Mr. Adler writes, "How does President Obama show his respect for the risks you face while investigating and apprehending drug traffickers?"

No one was ever forced too take a job investigating and apprehending drug traffickers. The people who do that job took it upon themselves. There are those of us who believe that job is wrong and should not be done.

Mr. Adler calls the drug dealers "peddlers of death". But, no one was ever forced to use drugs. The people who buy and consume drugs know the risks and do it on their own free will. The addicts at initially freely chose to use the drug.

Mr. Adler further writes, "Releasing these peddlers of death and turning America into a buzzed "udopia" is a slap in law enforcement's face."

How is that? The purpose of law enforcement is not to make the law, rather to simply enforce it. If the President in his wisdom sees fit to exercise his power to pardon, it is the job of law enforcement to accept it and not take it as a "slap in the face".

Diane R @ 8/25/2015 4:06 AM

The clear and undeniable evidence for over six years has been that Mr. Obama is an anti-American Muslim Communist determined to do as much harm to America as he can get away with. It is truly astonishing that he has not been impeached. These claims are in evidence 'everywhere we look' and fully supported at

These claims are not intended to show bias, intolerance or inappropriate behavior, but to point to a problem that needs to be dealt with before something really bad happens that could be avoided if we act in a responsible way now.

plato's playdough @ 8/26/2015 1:17 AM

Easiest Explanation. You always take care of your own.

Curbcooler @ 8/26/2015 5:39 PM

I'm sorry but the governments war on drugs has been a miserable failure. The fact that inner city non violent teens can get life for selling pot but there white counterparts get a few years with probation for child molestation and under 30 years for certain murder charges is just p,aim ridiculous and has led to decades s of mistrust in those communities. What your basically saying is we should continue this institutionalize do racism in the justice system because Americans willingly choosing to do drugs is somehow "peddle of death" as you cartoonishly put it. Nobody forces you to go in that business the courts and politicians and states are now making pot use legal at a rapid rate so it really is no point in keeping locked up for something like this now. I want our overcrowded underfunded prisons reserved for murders, rapists, child molesters, etc. so I couldn't disagree more with your post. I'm not saying no jail time is good but life in prison is just plain stupid, Obama was right.

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