National security and public safety is the government’s foremost responsibility. Over the past 25 years we have seen the government attempt to tackle crime in various ways — in the 80’s we saw the emergency of Reagan’s ‘War on Drugs’ and in the 90’s we saw Clinton’s ‘Crime Bill’ and both significantly increased the number people in prison and disproportionately impacted African-American men.
In recent years, lawmakers have discovered the disproportionality of programs of the past and are on the path of correcting those wrongs. President Obama has “shortened the prison sentences for dozens of additional drug offenders…” according to CNN as a part of his continuous efforts to “reign in lengthy punishments for non-violent crimes.” And this is an issue that not only has the focus of Democrats. House Speaker Paul Ryan plans to bring to the floor of the House legislation that would reduce sentences for federal prison inmates that have committed non-violent crimes.
While most objective observers would agree with the positions of President Obama and Speaker Ryan, one thing that appears to be missing from this equation is understanding the full criminal background of these individuals before being released from prison. A critique of many national security experts is the possibility that individuals with terrorist connections could potentially be listed as non-violent criminals and released with programs similar to the one in the works by Speaker Ryan. The odds of this occurrence may be slim, but it is certainly something to ponder and consider.