Penny Starr writes in a July 24 CNSNews.com article:
Conservatives gathered on Capitol Hill on Thursday to lay claim to the issue of reforming the United States criminal system, including ending the minimum mandatory sentencing laws that were passed by the Democrat majority in Congress three decades ago.
Kevin Ring, who was convicted as part of the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal and served 48 months in federal prison, called minimum mandatory sentences “a classic liberal idea.”
“We’re particularly focused on making sure that conservatives understand the mandatory minimums are nothing a conservative should support or defend,” said Ring, who is now the director of strategic initiatives for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). “For some reason, people think this was a conservative law and order idea. That’s not true.
“The worst mandatory minimums we have on the books today – the ones that hit drug offenders, including low-level offenders, were passed by a Democratic Congress in the ‘80s. It’s a classic liberal idea,” he said. “You have to understand that.
Starr made no effort whatsoever to seek out an alternative view or even conduct any basic research on her subject, choosing instead to serve as a stenographer to Ring. Let's look at what she got wrong and/or misreprestations she allowed to stand unchallenged in her article:
2) Despite Ring's suggestion that his prison term was dictated by mandatory minimums, it was not. In fact, the Justice Department recommended that he be sentenced to 17 to 22 years in prison.
3) Contrary to Ring's claim, conservatives did support mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the 1980s. Support for the two major anti-drug sentencing bills was unambiguously bipartisan:
- The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was passed by the House by a vote of 392-16 and by the Senate by a vote of 97-2.
- The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 passed 375-30 in the House and 87-3 in the Senate.
4) Starr didn't mention (and didn't note whether Ring did) that both of these supposedly non-conservative bills were signed into law by a conservative president, Ronald Reagan.
Instead of doing basic research, Starr was much more concerned with uncritically peddling the views of Ring and other conservatives that "Conservatives are leading the way on criminal justice reform." And her factual errors discredit herself and her employer in the process.