NOVEMBER 02, 2015
These are embarrassing times for the nation’s criminal justice system; as the Obama administration executes the nation’s largest mass release of federal prisoners, it’s sending a Long Island fisherman to jail for reeling in too many.
It’s part of the administration’s criminal justice reform movement to reduce jail time as a way of ending racial discrimination and enforce the overreaching federal regulations of a bloated government. Back in 2010 President Obama signed a measure that for the first time in decades relaxed drug-crime sentences he claimed discriminated against poor and minority offenders. This severely weakened a decades-old law enacted during the infamous crack cocaine epidemic that ravaged urban communities nationwide in the 1980s.
As part of the movement the U.S. Sentencing Commission lowered maximum sentences for drug offenders and made it retroactive. Last week the administration started releasing the first wave of 6,000 drug convicts who will get out of jail early. In all, about 50,000 prisoners are eligible for early release and federal authorities claim they’re all “non-violent” offenders whose sentences were too long in the first place. Federal prosecutors have warned that drug trafficking is inherently violent and therefore the phrase “non-violent drug offenders” is a misnomer. The nation’s prosecutors also caution that reducing prison sentences for drug offenders will weaken their ability to bring dangerous drug traffickers to justice.
The new more lenient penalty stops the justice system from unfairly targeting minorities and the poor, according to Obama’s first Attorney General, Eric Holder, a driving force behind the change. While drug offenders get off easy in the name of racial justice, the administration has increased punishment for violating federal regulations involving less serious acts such as reeling in too many fish. The feds actually went after a commercial fisherman named Anthony Jospeh for “Fisheries Fraud” because he caught too many fluke. Then, he lied about it to the government—“systematically underreporting fluke”—and that got him in a boatload of trouble.
Last week the New York fisherman got sentenced to seven months in prison, a $603,000 fine and three years of supervised release following incarceration, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement. This overfishing business is serious stuff, according to the language in the federal document. “In order to cover up the illegal fluke harvesting, Joseph falsified” the reports he sent to the government agency that regulates fishing and “he also utilized the exempted fisheries permit quota that was acquired through” a federal program as a “mask for his fluke overages.” For some reason this doesn’t sound nearly as serious as a drug-related offense. Is it possible that the country is safer because a fish fraudster is in jail…while drug convicts roam freely?
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