‘Tough on crime’: Mo Brooks touts ‘no’ vote on criminal justice reform package
Thursday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) touted his vote against S. 756, the First Step Act of 2018, which is criminal justice reform legislation that has now overwhelmingly passed Congress.
The entirety of Alabama’s Republican congressional delegation voted against the final version of the bill. A press release from Brooks’ office stated that the legislation as passed “releases violent criminals from prison early, making Americans less safe and more likely to be victims of violent crimes and drug overdoses.”
In a statement, Brooks was harshly critical of the bill, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump into law. He also explained that the final version of the bill had simply deviated from the previous version passed by the House months ago.
Brooks said, “The Senate version of the First Step Act is a step backward. My experience in law enforcement taught me early on that strong enforcement of criminal statutes and tough penalties for criminal conduct help keep dangerous criminals off the street. To be clear, I joined 359 of my House colleagues in voting ‘Yes’ on the House version of the First Step Act, which did not include dramatic cuts in criminal penalties and early release provisions for violent criminals.”
“It is only a matter of time before the verdict on this legislation is rendered: more crime, more crime victims, and more dead Americans. To cite but one major flaw, S. 756 as amended CUTS penalties for gun use during the commission of violent crimes. That is nuts! Further, this soft-on-crime bill even provides for early release of offenders who commit sex crimes, assault law enforcement officers, commit hate crimes, and assist with jailbreaks,” Brooks continued.
The congressman from north Alabama advised, “Many major, national law enforcement groups strongly oppose this bill including but not limited to the National Sheriffs Association, the Major County Sheriffs Association, the Major City Chiefs Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations. In sum, this bill makes America a more dangerous place to live. According to FBI annual ‘Crime in America’ data, violent crime has fallen sharply over the last quarter decade in America. Why? Because, as every law enforcement officer knows, the greater the penalty for violation of criminal laws, the greater the deterrence and the less the crime. Further, stiff criminal penalties keep violent repeat criminals off the streets and in jail. The Senate-amended First Step Act kicks violent, repeat offenders out of jail much quicker than under current law. Reform efforts should focus on reducing crime and apprehending suspects. This bill does none of that.”
Brooks concluded, “The bottom line is, at a time when fatal drug overdoses plague our nation, Congress has irresponsibly passed legislation that increases the likelihood that even more fatal drugs will be imported into America by illegal aliens and foreign drug cartels. Let the record show, I voted against this irresponsible, soft-on-crime, and dangerous legislation.”
In a letter to Senate leadership, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America wrote, “The current draft of the First Step legislation remains troubling to the leaders of law enforcement. Sheriffs are elected solely to protect our communities, and Police Chiefs have taken an oath to protect the public. We feel unless the changes recommended below are enacted, this legislation creates a high-risk path for dangerous criminals with gun crime histories to early release from prison. This amounts to a social experiment with the safety of our communities and the lives of Sheriffs, deputies and police officers in the balance. Please know that we did not come to this conclusion lightly. We have been working diligently with the Administration to correct these inequities. It is our hope the Senate will listen to the nation’s elected Sheriffs and the Chiefs of Police of our nation’s most populous cities.”
Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) were the only members of Alabama’s congressional delegation to vote for the final version of the bill.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn