Manthos: Sending the Wrong Message

By Chris Manthos, Leesburg

Danielle Nadler’s coverage on the screening of Chasing the Dragon, follows plenty of reports of the epidemic of hard drug abuse in Loudoun. Leesburg hosted the Drug Enforcement Agency’s traveling exhibit on the price of drug addiction while candlelight vigils demand attention of this creeping threat to our community. No family is immune from the trap that is addiction.

Yet, in the very midst of this horror is astonishing duplicity. In August, the Department of Justice issued a notice on the president’s recent granting of commutations in what the media characterized as “low level” and “non-violent” drug offenders. Such phraseology conjures up images of some kid making a one-time bad choice, or a low-level dealer selling a dime bag of weed as the victims of overzealous mandatory sentencing guidelines.

I support reform in nearly every aspect of government, including sentencing. However, the 214 individuals on the president’s Aug. 3 commutation list edges on unbelievable. Far from being low-level offenders, 74 of these people were convicted of selling more than 50 grams of meth, heroin, crack, cocaine, ecstasy, pharmaceuticals, and other drugs.

Think of 50 kids in your child’s school—then imagine each of those faces with a gram of meth on Friday afternoon. Saturday, too. And next Friday as well. This get-out-jail list includes multiple dealers slinging more than 500 grams of meth. One was pushing 12 kilos of cocaine; that’s 12,000 grams. How many high school kids are in Loudoun? One individual, convicted of 1,000 kilos of weed might seem the winner, but he’s nothing compared to the guy from Houston popped with just over 4,500 kilos. The grand champion (at least on the Aug. 3 list) is a man from Miami who was working on an amazing 9,445 kilo cocaine deal. At about 10 tons, it would fill up most living rooms floor to ceiling. Hardly the small-time fish we were told in the 15-second mention on the news.

And it gets worse. One individual on the list wasn’t involved in drugs. He was a straight up felon in possession of a firearm. He lied about his status in obtaining the gun. He gets out of jail in December. Nor is he alone. Fifty-three others on the list were convicted of federal firearms charges while engaged in dealing drugs. Some used the illegal firearm in their case. A few had obliterated the serial numbers and others were fugitives in possession of a firearm. One even had an unregistered National Firearms Act gun (machine gun or sawed off shotgun, likely). Drug dealers with illegal guns … just what parents want hanging around.

The overwhelming majority of these individuals will be walking out of prison on Dec. 1 with the rest to follow soon.  

We are cautioned, lectured, informed, and hold candles on this issue, and yet at the exact same time, the president is releasing the very people who have shown that our kids are nothing more than profit centers, and all laws are meaningless.

What message do these releases send to the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to get these people out of society? How do we face them and demand action all while catch and release is the order of the day from high up? Why should we expect them to risk life and limb? How do we explain this dichotomy to ourselves? To our children?

The release of gun offenders clearly demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of self-proclaimed “gun safety” groups. Not a single one, anywhere, has raised a whisper about violent criminal gun offenders being put back on our streets by the president. While they’re quick with the sanctimonious bullying for further restrictions on the civil rights of law-abiding citizens, reality reveals them to be nothing more than fake front groups in the pay of dictatorial billionaires. They don’t care about you or your family regardless of which phony cloth they drape over themselves. They’re just cashing a check in order to fraudulently restrict your basic civil liberties.

Town councilman Marty Martinez rightfully indicated disgust that “every seat in the auditorium wasn’t filled” for the screening. He grasps the level of assault on the decent quality of life we are facing as a community. Hopefully, he will direct some of his anger at those who feign concern with this plague, all while emptying the prisons of hundreds of big time drug dealers, meth lab cooks, and gun criminals on to our very streets.

Is there redemption? We should all hope so. But with recidivism rates what they are, it’s not unreasonable to assume many of these felons will get back to the work they know best.

On Aug. 30, President Obama commutated the sentences of another 111 individuals—his 14th such action. A quick glance looks like more of the same. More emptying of prisons, more chest thumping about rights and fairness, and in the end, more violent criminals back on the streets to prey upon our families.

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