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July 7, 2007

The Libertarian response to the Libby commutation

I just saw this interesting press release from the Libertarian Party of Florida providing a notable take on how the President should follow-up his commutation of Lewis Libby.  Here are snippets:

National Libertarian Party chairman William Redpath is challenging President Bush to address the issue of prison time for nonviolent consensual crime offenders after saving Lewis "Scooter" Libby from serving 30 months in prison.  "After freeing Scooter Libby because of what he calls too strong of a sentence, we challenge President Bush to do the same for same for the thousands of Americans currently in prison for other nonviolent victimless offenses," Redpath said upon the announcement of Libby's sentence commutation.  "These Americans are forced to serve a sentence for offenses far less serious than those committed by Libby."...

The Libertarian Party believes jailing nonviolent offenders is a waste of government resources, which could be used in turn for what the party calls "real crime."... The average sentence for a nonviolent offender is over 50 months in prison.

According to a report released by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the American prison system held over one million nonviolent offenders by the end of 1998 — the first time ever in American history.  The same report found that prison costs of incarcerating the 1.2 million nonviolent offenders totaled $24 billion dollars for that year.  "If President Bush feels that Libby’s punishment is too severe for the crime, then why does our judicial system still require prison for some nonviolent crimes where no victim exists?" Redpath continued.  "It is a grotesque waste of scant judicial resources."

The platform for the Libertarian Party calls for the immediate reform of the judicial system’s mandatory sentencing policy, to both reduce a skyrocketing prison population and ensure violent offenders are not prematurely released from jail.... "In the supposed 'Land of the Free,' we have the highest prison population in the world," Redpath said.  "The Libertarian Party believes this is a serious problem that demands serious attention."

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July 7, 2007 at 02:25 PM | Permalink


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I wonder if most republicans would concede that Libby's crime is more serious than possession of an ounce of weed. If so, would they advocate a general amnesty for all Americans currently imprisoned in the US for possession of small amounts (< 1 oz) of marijuana? If not, why? Would they try to distinguish Libby by saying even though his crime is more serious than possession of an ounce of pot, he should not have had to serve a single day in prison because of his "service to his country"? If so, then why do their beloved sentencing guidelines explicitly prohibit a (federal) court from taking such service into account as an offender characteristic?

There is just so much hypocrisy here. I've long advocated for a form of judicial estoppel based on past statements and positions of the parties.

Posted by: bruce | Jul 7, 2007 4:04:20 PM

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