Photo of a jail cell in an article by Allen West on the Old School Patriot posting a response to his article on criminal justice reform and the First Step Act

First Step Act: Response and Reassurances

In Front Page, National Security by Allen West

This past Saturday I wrote an opinion post on the recently announced First Step Act. The crux of the piece related to a Conservative Review report on crimes committed in the United States by foreign nationals and criminal illegal immigrants. I support rehabilitation efforts for those who are incarcerated, who show potential and would agree that low-level non-violent crimes receive a different adjudication.

My concern in writing my piece was to ensure that there was no possibility that criminal illegal immigrants would be considered under the First Step Act.

It appears that my thoughts and concerns caught the attention of legislative proponents of the First Step Act. They contacted me late Saturday and humbly asked if they could respond and reassure you, the American people, that your safety and security is their utmost focus. And, they wanted to confirm that the First Step Act will not be applied to criminal illegal immigrants.

Here is their response, as emailed to me Sunday evening at 10pm.

Note: You will see that some of my original thoughts, points, were incorporated into their response, and they did use the first person singular in some instances. However, I did not write this response:

“This past week, President Trump announced the First Step Act which is better known as criminal justice reform in America. The core of the First Step Act would allow certain nonviolent offenders who are not here illegally to earn time credits by successfully completing programs in prison. I agree that there should be training programs for those who are incarcerated in an attempt to reduce the possibility of recidivism. This makes our communities safer by reducing future crimes. Prisoners should leave prison better off than when they came in. It is better for everyone.

The First Step Act is supported by many conservatives and law enforcement groups,  including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National District Attorneys Association. There are other proposals offered by those on the far left under this same banner of “criminal justice reform” that would release people from prison without regard to the danger they pose, including illegal immigrants and serious violent offenders. We must remember that there are some folks who are, well, as the ol’ folks would say, “just bad.” Additionally, some left-wing professors even propose abolishing all prisons partly based on their notion that the system is racist in nature. Hmm, I tend to believe that skin color or race has nothing to do with a person deciding to break the law. I just do not want us to go down the path of having criminals believe that there are no consequences, ramifications, for their actions and behavior.

What this bill does NOT do is cut any breaks for illegal immigrants. Some people were concerned over the summer with an earlier draft of the legislation that almost made it look like illegal immigrants could use credits to get into home confinement or halfway houses. I don’t need to tell you why this would be a bad idea. But to the credit of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they took care of that problem in the current legislation that should make it to the Senate floor soon. It would have been nice if they told us about that sooner.

Having spent a few years in Washington D.C., I realize sometimes good ideas and bad ideas on a topic can get muddled together, leaving the public confused. The First Step Act commendably expands proven rehabilitation programs in federal prisons and ensures that only nonviolent prisoners here legally and can benefit from the earned time incentive for completing them. As conservatives though, even as we continue to advocate for these types of very targeted changes, we must also never cave to the left when it comes to standing strong on fighting violent crime and keeping illegal immigrants who would harm us out of this country.”

I want to express my sincere gratitude to the proponents of the First Step Act for being so responsive to the American people. I want everyone to know that the oath that I took on July 31, 1982, is an oath I take seriously. It is an oath to our rule of law, our US Constitution. And my commitment to serve is to the American people. That is why I will always ask the hard questions and address the critical issues, with no forethought of my self-interest or concerns about myself. I think the action I took in Iraq in 2003, denigrated by progressive socialist leftists, is evidence enough that I will honorably sacrifice my life, my career, for those I am called to serve, to protect.

Steadfast and Loyal,

Lt. Col. Allen West

[My latest book, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and retailers nationwide!]