Pelosi Statement on Failed House Republican Veto Override Vote

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after House Republicans failed to override the President’s veto of their budget reconciliation bill to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act:

“It is deeply fitting that Republicans chose Groundhog Day for their failed veto-override vote. Today, instead of working to create good-paying jobs or raising the paychecks of hard-working Americans, Republicans once again recycled their dead-end special interest assault on women and working families.

“Today’s failed vote represents Republicans’ 63rd vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act and their 12th vote to attack women’s health in the 114th Congress alone. With this vote, Republicans have once again tried to take family planning and lifesaving preventive care away from millions of women across America. With this vote, Republicans tried to shatter the affordable health care of 22 million Americans.

“Again and again and again, the Republican Congress returns to these toxic, hollow bills. House Republicans’ self-declared ‘factory of new ideas’ is stuck in a miserable remake of Groundhog Day – and the women and working families of America aren’t laughing. The American people need the Republican Congress to set aside their radical obsessions and join Democrats to grow their wages and strengthen their security for the future.”


Note: All three of Nevada’s Republican members of the US House voted FOR passage of the bill to override President Obama’s veto of HR 3762.  Their efforts failed.

Come to Your Humboldt County Democratic Caucus

2016 Humboldt County Democratic Caucuses
will be held in the following locations on
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2016

Doors open at 9:30 AM … Counts begin at 11:00 AM

  • Precinct 01 …. Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 02 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 03 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 04 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 05 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 06 …. Grass Valley Elementary School
  • Precinct 07 …. Grass Valley Elementary School
  • Precinct 08 ….  Denio Rural Elementary School
  • Precinct 09 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 10 ….  Ft. McDermitt Tribal Building
  • Precinct 11 ….  Orovada Elementary School
  • Precinct 12 ….  Paradise Valley Elementary School
  • Precinct 13 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 14 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 15 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School

If you don’t know your precinct number, go to https://nvsos.gov/votersearch/

If you’d rather not do it via the internet, you can call the County Clerk’s office:  775-623-6343

Pre-register for the Democratic Caucus at:  https://caucus.nvdems.com/  and get an email back showing your caucus location. Print that off and bring that on caucus day to speed up your check-in process.

You must be registered as a Democrat to participate in your precinct’s Democratic Caucus.  Same-Day registration will be available to all anyone wishing to register as a Democrat to participate.  17 year-olds, who will be 18 by the general election on November 8, 2016, will be allowed to fully participate. They will be required to fill out a voter registration card and register as a Democrat if they have not done so already.

If you’re planning to participate and you’re not currently registered as a democrat, you can register online any time prior to the Caucus date: https://nvsos.gov/sosvoterservices/Registration/step1.aspx

Humboldt Dems Web blog:  https://humboldtdems.wordpress.com
Humboldt Dems Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/humboldtdems/

Still seeking folks willing to serve as precinct captains for some of the precinct caucus locations.  Training will be at noon on Saturday, February 6th at Roundtable Pizza.  An alternate training date will be at 6pm on February 9th at our monthly meeting, which will also be held at RoundTable Pizza.  Call (775) 623-1029 to volunteer, then come to the training session on the 6th (or the 9th) and learn everything you need to know. 

Participants may register to vote at the caucus. Republicans, nonpartisans and others can change registration to become a Democrat at their Precinct on Caucus day.

NOTE: Per Republican Party rules, should a Republican change his/her registration to Democrat, s/he will NOT be able to participate in the Republican Caucus on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.  The GOP Delegate Plan rules state:

“No person shall be allowed to participate in the Presidential Preference Poll at the Precinct Meeting who does not already appear as a registered Republican on the voter rolls for that precinct not less than ten (10) days prior to the day of the meeting. Same-day registration is prohibited.”

February 20th Democratic Caucus Guidelines

Observers

The following rules MUST be followed by guest observers at the precinct caucus:

  • Only eligible, registered caucus participants may participate on caucus matters or elections.
  • The Site Coordinator/Temporary Chair will ask that all guest observers be seated in an area other than what is reserved for eligible caucus participants, if there is room. Caucus participants are given first priority for space in the precinct location.
  • Guest observers must remain quiet and not become involved in caucus discussions once the caucus is called to order.
  • Eligible caucus participants are to be considered actively participating in the caucus from the time it is convened until it is adjourned. It is not appropriate for a reporter to interview a caucus participant while the caucus is in session.
  • Campaign staff and campaign volunteers who are observers will not be allowed to communicate, signal, or instruct the eligible caucus participants once the caucus is called to order by the Temporary Chair.
  • All facilities at the caucus have been reserved for caucus attendees and the Nevada State Democratic Party. The Site Coordinator/Temporary Chairs, as officers of the Democratic Party, have first right to these facilities.
  • In the event that there is broadcast equipment at a caucus site, it must be set up and used in a way that will not hinder or obstruct the participation of any caucus attendee.
  • In the event of violations of these rules, the Site Coordinator/Temporary Chairs may ask the disruptive person(s) to leave.

Campaigning and Other Activities at the Caucus

Persons appearing on behalf of candidates or issues not specifically mentioned in the agenda will not be offered an opportunity to speak during the caucus. However, they may speak individually with attendees prior to the 11:30 a.m. start time and pass out literature or collect signatures prior to the caucus being called to order.

  • No food is permitted at caucus locations. Individuals may bring water
  • Campaigns signs are NOT allowed to be posted inside any precinct caucus location or inside any caucus site. Also, campaigns signs are NOT allowed to be attached to any portion of the inside or outside of the location. This includes taping, gluing, nailing, posting, sticking, tacking, writing, etc. onto any bulletin board, wall, door, fence, lawn or other surface on the interior or exterior of caucus sites. Campaigns may not dig holes or drive stakes on the grounds of caucus sites.
  • Campaigns may NOT post signs or hand out stickers, due to possible assessment of damage charges by facilities.
  • Buttons or pins and literature are acceptable.
  • No campaigning activity by presidential campaigns is permitted inside the registration area of the caucus site.
  • Paraphernalia that obstructs views, causes a distraction (noise makers), or interrupts the caucus are prohibited on caucus sites.
  • Eligible caucus participants WILL BE allowed to wear campaign gear in support of their candidate.

Each campaign is responsible for the removal of any campaign materials they bring to the caucus or provide to supporters at the conclusion of the caucus.

2016 NV Democratic Military and Overseas Tele-Caucus

The Military and Overseas Tele-Caucus is available to Nevadans who are registered to vote and covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Voting Act (UOCAVA) and any active-duty member of the military who is outside the borders of Nevada on the day and time of the Nevada Democratic Caucus, which will take place on Saturday, February 20 at 11 a.m. PT. This would include:

  • Member of the military stationed outside Nevada
  • Military family members living abroad
  • Member of the Peace Corps
  • Member of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Students or other Nevadans living abroad

Pre-Registration

On our state party website (NVDems.com), we have a link to pre-register for the TeleCaucus. All fields on the form are mandatory. We will ask for the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nevada Voting Address (Street, City, Zip)
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Which of the following most accurately describes your reason for participating in the Tele-Caucus? (drop-down menu)
    • Member of the military stationed outside Nevada
    • Military family members living abroad
    • Member of the Peace Corps
    • Member of the Diplomatic Corps
    • Students or other Nevadans living abroad

NV Dems will check each registrant’s information using the Nevada Secretary of State Voter File. NV Dems will confirm on a rolling basis that all participants are registered Democrats and eligible to participate. If they are not eligible, they will be notified by NV Dems and asked to complete a voter registration form online at nvsos.gov.

Pre-Registration Timeline

  • Monday, February 1st – Sunday, February 14 (Midnight PT)

Email Confirmation

A reminder email will be distributed one week before the caucus with Tele-Caucus dial-in information (phone number and a unique pin) on a rolling basis to everyone who pre-registered the last week. NV Dems will also send out reminder emails the day before the caucus.

Pre-Caucus Logistics

Each presidential campaign will be asked to submit a two-minute recording from their candidate, due by Friday, February 12. A member of the NV Dems staff or a designated volunteer will chair the Tele-Caucus. Two additional staffers or designated volunteers will assist the Tele-Caucus Chair during the call. Tele-Caucus Rules

  • Participants must pre-register with NV Dems by Sunday, February 14, 2016 and must meet the qualifications outlined in this memo.
  • Participants must be registered Democrats.
  • Participants have until February 14, 2016 to register to vote.
  • Participants will receive a confirmation email after registering.
  • NV Dems will confirm all participants are registered Democrats, and will alert anyone who needs to update voter registration by February 14, 2016.
  • NV Dems will notify anyone who does not qualify.
  • Participants will remain anonymous.
    Participants will receive a reminder email one week out, which will include a dial-in number and a unique pin. Reminder emails will also be sent the day before and morning of the Tele-Caucus.
  • Participants must be dialed in to the Tele-Caucus by 12:00 p.m. PT.
  • Participants will be asked to stay on the line for the duration of the call.
  • Participants will be able to press “0” at any time to communicate with an operator and ask questions.
  • There are two delegates allocated to the state convention from the Tele-Caucus.
  • If more than two viable preference groups still exist after the first realignment process, the smallest preference group(s) must realign.
  • The Tele-Caucus Chair will announce the number of eligible attendees and calculate viability using the 25% threshold. The viability threshold will be announced to the group.
  • Presidential candidate recordings will play in alphabetical order by last name before the first alignment period.
    There will be one alignment period and three realignment periods, each lasting two minutes. Participants will be instructed to press “1” for Hillary Clinton, “2” for Martin O’Malley, “3” for Bernie Sanders, “4” for Uncommitted and “5” for Other.
  • Once a participant has joined a preference group, he/she will not be able to change a preference group until the next realignment process.
  • At the 60-second and 30-second marks, participants will be given an update on preference group sizes and how many more members each group needs to become viable. They will also be given a time warning. The clock will be paused during these updates to ensure participants have a full two minutes to make their selections.
  • A 10-second time warning will be given.
  • After each alignment and realignment period, the Tele-Caucus Chair will announce the preference group sizes, which groups are viable, which groups are not viable, and how many more people each group would need to become viable.
  • Anyone is able to realign during the first realignment process; however, only non-viable groups may realign during the second or third realignment.
  • During the first realignment process, all participants must re-enter their preference group, even if they were members of an already viable preference group.
  • After the first realignment period, any viable preference group members will be locked into their preference group and will no longer have to key in a response to join a preference group.
    During second and third realignments (if a third realignment is needed), participants will have an option to no longer participate in the caucus.
  • If a third realignment process is needed, then it is the final process, and people must be in a viable preference group after that realignment, or will not be included in counts when awarding delegates. This will be made clear to participants.
  • If any participants remain in non-viable preference groups after the third realignment process, they will not be included in counts when awarding delegates.
  • After the final realignment process, delegates will be awarded to the preference groups using the following formula: (number of members in the group X number of delegates to elect) ÷ total eligible attendees.
  • The number of delegates each preference group receives will be announced.
  • Note: the viability threshold and the total eligible attendees will not change throughout the duration of the Tele-Caucus.

26 Days to the NV Caucuses

With less than a month to go until the Nevada Democratic caucuses, it’s more important than ever to make sure that Nevada is ready to select our Democratic nominee. That’s why we’ve released a new video to show you what Caucus Day will look like!

Nevadans will play a huge part in the selection of a Democratic nominee – we’re the First in the West and just the third state to have our voice heard this cycle. That’s why it’s SO important that YOU make your voice heard.

If you’re not currently registered as a Democrat:  Register HERE

To check your registration on line: Check Your Registration HERE
(HINT: You can also find out your Precinct number at this link)

To PRE-REGISTER for your caucus & find out the location for your Precinct’s Caucus go HERE.  Pre-registering will save you considerable time during the check-in process that morning.

Doors will open throughout Humboldt County Caucus sites at 10:00 AM.  First count will take place at 11AM.

‘Great Day for Clean Energy’ as Supreme Court Gives Renewables a Boost

SCOTUS upholds rule meant to incentivize electricity conservation and idle dirty fossil fuel power plants normally used during periods of high demand

— by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

“Demand response provides tremendous benefits to our environment, helps consumers save money and makes our electricity grid more reliable,” says Earthjustice. (Photo: Image Catalog/flickr/cc)

In a decision heralded as “great news for consumers and the environment,” the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a rule meant to incentivize electricity conservation and idle dirty fossil fuel power plants normally used during periods of high demand.

As Timothy Cama explains for The Hill, the court ruled (pdf) that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “did not exceed the authority Congress gave it when it wrote its ‘demand response’ rule, mandating that electric utilities pay customers to reduce use during peak demand periods.”

At the Natural Resources Defense Council blog, senior attorney Allison Clements offered further background:

In 2011, FERC (the agency that regulates our country’s high voltage electric transmission grid) issued a landmark rule called Order 745, which set compensation for demand response in wholesale energy markets. Under the rule, grid operators are required to pay demand response participants the same rates for reducing energy use as those paid to power suppliers for producing energy from resources like coal, natural gas, and wind and solar power. FERC said the rule reflected the common sense view that “markets function most effectively when both supply and demand resources have appropriate opportunities to participate.”

With its ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court essentially affirmed FERC’s position—and in turn, gave clean energy “a huge boost,” Clements said in a press statement. That’s because, she explained, “[i]f grid operators can count on fast-acting customer responses rather than plants that need more advanced notice to come online, they will have greater flexibility to meet electricity demand in situations when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.”

What’s more, said Sierra Club staff attorney Casey Roberts, “demand response programs make energy cheaper, ensure the reliability of the grid, and protect our air and water from fossil fuel pollution.”

As Politico points out:

The agency’s win is seen as a big loss for large “baseload” power sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, which have seen their profits decline over the last several years as electricity consumption has eased and renewables grew. Now they have to compete with industrial customers and others who will at times be paid at market rates to reduce their electricity use without having the costs of operating and maintaining a power plant themselves.

“This is a great day for clean energy and the health of a more affordable, stronger power grid,” added Earthjustice managing attorney of clean energy Jill Tauber on Monday. “Demand response provides tremendous benefits to our environment, helps consumers save money and makes our electricity grid more reliable.”


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Getting Ready for Caucus

— Vickie Rock, HumboldtDems Chair

Caucus day is coming up soon:  Saturday, February 20, 2016 with doors opening at 10:00 AM and counts beginning at 11:00 AM. If you’ve never participated in a “caucus” before, you can learn more about the process HERE.

To facilitate holding caucuses across the county, I’ve been making phone calls attempting to find folks who would be willing to help us conduct their precinct’s Caucus as well as folks to check folks in and register those chose to do same-day registration.  Though I’ve made it through most of the list of Democrats for whom I phone numbers, there a quite a few folks around the county for whom I have no phone number.  I’m still calling precinct Democrats, but if you’re in Precincts 1 -6 and you haven’t gotten a call from me, I don’t have  your number and thus, couldn’t make that “ask.”  So, if you’d be willing to help out in your precinct, please call me instead at (775) 623-1029.

Here’s when training for those who will be helping to conduct the various precinct Caucus sessions will take place:

When:  Saturday, February 6, 2016 from Noon to 3 PM

Where:  RoundTable Pizza, 1043 W 4th St, Winnemucca, NV

For those who have agreed to help, please hold that date and time on your calendars.

Pre-Registering for Caucus —

Caucus Express is a new tool that allows caucus goers to save time and speed up the process of signing in on Caucus Day by pre-registering now online.  It’s a 3-step process that first asks for your email, your last name, date of birth and zip code, asks you to verify that the person they found in the DMV is you, and then lets you “pre-register.”  The application will then email your confirmation with your caucus location.

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How the Caucus Express Works for you —

Users will receive their caucus location and updates about the caucus via email and can also enroll to receive text message alerts. When voters who have pre-registered arrive on Caucus Day, they will see a special phone number posted near the entrance line. When they text their unique code to that number from their mobile device, they can proceed to the express check-in lane.

What To Do If Your Information Doesn’t Match —

If the Caucus Express system cannot find any Democratic voter registrations that match your information, it may be because of a recent change in name or address. You also must be registered to vote as a Democrat in order to participate in the caucuses. Nevada Democrats allow same-day voter registration on Caucus Day, or you can register to vote or update your information now on the Nevada Secretary of State’s website.

Who Can Attend a Precinct Caucus?

  • Precinct caucuses are open meetings. Anyone can attend and observe, but only registered Democrats (including 17 year olds who will be 18 by November 8, 2016 and register as Democrats) can participate.
  • Young people who will NOT be 18 by November 8, 2016 are encouraged to attend as Youth Attenders. They can not participate in the caucus. They are there strictly to observe.

Who Can Participate?

  • All participants must be Democrats registered to vote in their precinct. A list of registered Democrats will be available at the caucuses. If you are not on the list and are not registered to vote, you will be able to register as a Democrat at the caucus.
  • If you’re currently registered as a Democrat in Humboldt County, but want to participate in the caucus, you can save yourself some time plus the hassle of same-day registration, by registering online at the NV Secretary of State’s website well before caucus day.
  • Seventeen-year-olds, who will be 18 by the general election on November 8, 2016, will be allowed to fully participate. If they have not done so before caucus day, they will be required to fill out a voter registration card and register as a Democrat.
  • Participants will be allowed to register to vote at their precinct caucus location. Republicans, nonpartisans and others will be able to change their registration to become a Democrat that day to enable their partication.
    • NOTE: Should a Republican change his/her registration to Democrat, s/he will NOT be able to participate in the Republican Caucus on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.  The Delegate selection plan subsection states: No person shall be allowed to participate in the Presidential Preference Poll at the Precinct Meeting who does not already appear as a registered Republican on the voter rolls for that precinct not less than ten (10) days prior to the day of the meeting. Same day registration is prohibited.

Does it cost anything to participate?
No.

Is there a way to vote early or cast an absentee vote?
No.

Caucus Locations:

Precinct Approx # of Dems Caucus Location (Location of Precinct)
01 156 Winnemucca Junior High School (Downtown and North of 1-80)
02 200 French Ford Middle School (Winnemucca N of 1-80 Corridor)
03 191 French Ford Middle School (Winnemucca South Middle)
04 181 French Ford Middle School (Winnemucca South West)
05 169 French Ford Middle School (Winnemucca South East)
06 222 Grass Valley Elementary School (SW Grass Valley)
07 142 Grass Valley Elementary School (SE Grass Valley)
08 11 Denio Rural Elementary School (Denio)
09 19 Winnemucca Junior High School (Golconda)
10 66 Ft. McDermitt Reservation Facilities (McDermitt Area)
11 21 Orovada Elementary School (Orovada)
12 11 Paradise Valley Elementary School (Paradise Valley)
13 42 Winnemucca Junior High School (County North – Paradise Estates)
14 83 Winnemucca Junior High School (County Short North)
15 52 Winnemucca Junior High School (County North – Sand Dunes)

 

Republican Water Wars: Clean Drinking Water and GOP Polluters

544Rep. Mark Amodei, Rep. Joe Heck, and Rep. Cresant Hardy ALL voted in favor of passage.

H.R. 1644 would prohibit the Department of the Interior (DOI) from issuing any rule regarding prohibited surface mining areas near streams until a year after the National Academy of Science (NAS) has submitted an evaluative report of the current rule to Congress. It gives two years for NAS to submit the report, meaning DOI would be prevented from issuing further rules for up to three years. The bill would also expand transparency requirements on all scientific products and raw data used by DOI to develop any rule regarding surface mining regulation. It passed the House Tuesday with partisan Republican support. The Democratic Whip urged Democrats to vote no, and the White House has issued a veto threat should the bill pass in both chambers.

The Stream Buffer Zone (SBZ) rule, which prohibits surface mining activities within 100 feet of certain streams without special permission, has been in effect since 1983. On July 27, 2015, DOI proposed a revision of SBZ called the Stream Protection Rule. This would increase the number of streams regulated and, according to bill sponsor Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV2), “shut down all surface mining and a significant section of underground mining in the Appalachian region.” Mooney said the bill is intended to prevent the loss in jobs and increase in energy prices that would result from increased regulation.

According to the White House response and the Democratic Whip, the current SBZ regulations are outdated. They argue that the bill would “result in deterioration of water quality for thousands of stream miles, and create sustained regulatory uncertainty, as well as public health impacts for downstream communities.”

Three Democratic amendments were proposed but failed in a vote before the bill was passed in the House. They were:

  • To bypass the waiting period for any stream buffer rule if the rule would protect clean drinking water.
  • To allow abandoned mine reclamation funding to be used to revitalize communities that have been adversely affected by mining.
  • To postpone the delay of the stream buffer rule if it would contribute to the development of negative chronic or long-term health conditions.

 

Desert Beacon

Amodei 3 It’s really hard to argue against Clean Water.  It’s especially difficult to argue against Clean Drinking Water in light of what’s happening to the public in Flint, Michigan.  However, that hasn’t stopped Republican members of Congress like Representatives Hardy (R-NV4), Heck (R-NV3), and Amodei (R-NV2) from aligning themselves with those who want to curtail, delay, and ultimately defeat regulations designed to prevent stream contamination in “coal country.”

Easy and Cheap Coal Mining or Clean Drinking Water?

Back in May 2015, opponents of clean water regulations decided to oppose any administration efforts to regulate what mining companies did with the debris from mountain top coal operations:

“Congressional Republicans are seeking to block an imminent rule protecting Appalachian streams from mountaintop removal mining, as opponents of the controversial practice say the mines are getting closer to communities and harming people’s health.

The White House is expected to announce a stricter rule…

View original post 1,234 more words

114-2 Vote#4 Cloture on HR4038

114-2 Vote#4 Cloture on HR4038

Failed Cloture on Jan 20, 2016
This bill is provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture on January 20, 2016. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.

Senator Dean Heller  (R-NV): Aye
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV): Nay
About this bill

Let’s Put Prison Sentences on Probation

Judges share the blame for America’s burgeoning incarcerated population.

— by

john-kiriakouYou may have heard there’s a growing political movement against mass incarceration. Someone should clue in the judges.

In the past 30 years, federal judges have turned to imprisonment — as opposed to probation — as the punishment of choice for even minor crimes, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. During that same period, federal cases have tripled in number.

The Pew study reports that “nine in 10 federal offenders received prison sentences in 2014, up from less than half in 1980, as the use of probation steadily declined.” Despite the ballooning number of cases in that time, 2014 saw 2,300 fewer probation sentences than 1980.

Part of the fault lies with the draconian mandatory minimum sentences that Congress passed in the 1980s and 1990s as it ratcheted up the so-called war on drugs. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a group at Harvard Law School in mid-January that these laws have had a “devastating effect on poor communities, and were a drastic and ineffective response to the drug scourge of the 1980s.”

Guantanamo-prisoner-detainee-hands-tied-torture-gitmo

Val Kerry / Flickr

That may be true, but it’s not the whole story.

Drug cases account for about 47 percent of all federal crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP. What about the other 53 percent? Should all of those people really be in prison? I think not.

First, there are many kinds of federal prisons.

The worst and most violent prisoners — murderers and terrorists, for example — are in maximum-security penitentiaries, which hold about 12 percent of the BOP’s prisoners. While we can certainly have a discussion about the use of solitary confinement in these facilities — critics like the United Nations call it torture — few would dispute that these dangerous offenders should be held securely.

Medium-security prisons, which still have high walls and guard towers, hold another 30 percent of federal prisoners. These are generally the bank robbers, serious drug offenders, people in on gun charges, and the like. If these prisoners are well behaved, and if they have fewer than 20 years to go on a sentence, they’re eligible to move to a low-security prison.

Low-security prisons hold another 38 percent of federal prisoners. Most people with mandatory minimum drug sentences are here, as are nearly all of the BOP’s pedophiles. Most prisoners at this level are on their best behavior because they hope to be transferred to a minimum-security work camp (though child abusers and violent offenders are ineligible).

But here’s a question: If a crime is so minor that a person can be sentenced to a work camp, which is outside the prison walls, then why are these people in prison at all?

Blaming mandatory minimums goes only so far. Not all crimes have them. In fact, most don’t.

So why would a judge willingly take a parent away from his family, or out of the workforce? Why disrupt a community when probation is a legitimate punishment that the judge has the authority to levy?

While on probation, the offender could continue to work and support his family, pay taxes and restitution, and still make amends with society. It makes more sense. It’s worked in the past.

If judges are serious about reducing prison populations, they’ll sentence more offenders to probation.


OtherWords columnist John Kiriakou is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the winner of the 2015 PEN Center USA First Amendment award. OtherWords.org.