86°F
weather icon Clear

Heritage Foundation fellow talks FIRST STEP, judicial vacancies

Updated November 29, 2018 - 12:45 pm

Congress should pass the FIRST STEP Act currently before the Senate to help decrease recidivism rates. States that have passed similar measures have seen a decrease in crime. Conservatives also shouldn’t push Justice Clarence Thomas to retire before President Donald Trump’s first term is over. That’s all according to John Malcom, a senior legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation.

“The guts of the (FIRST STEP) bill are designed to reduce recidivism rates by people who are presently incarcerated,” said Malcolm while filming Nevada Politics Today. “What it would do is match up evidence-based programs in prison that would suit the needs of the particular inmate involved.”

Those needs could include treatment for drug addiction and mental illness, along with boosting an inmate’s job skills or education.

“The goal being by offering them modest incentives, they can take these programs, complete these programs and make it a lot less likely that they’ll return to crime once they are released,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm pointed to the success some states have had in implementing similar programs.

“Their crime rates have gone down,” he said. “They’ve been able to reduce some of their prison costs. People are coming out of prison and, rather than returning to crime, are becoming productive, law-abiding citizens.”

This isn’t about reducing prison sentences, insisted Malcolm. “They wouldn’t get their sentences cuts, but towards the end of their sentences, they might be released to community confinement or home confinement. They would get a change of conditions. But if they violate any of those conditions, they would go back to prison to serve out the remainder of their prison sentence.

“The idea though is to give people the skills so that over time recidivism rates will drop and public safety will be enhanced.”

The bill has come under heavy criticism from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who objects to the wide latitude given to the Department of Justice to implement the reforms. Malcolm said the bill follows the normal division of labor between the legislative and executive branch.

“There needs to be standards set by Congress to give direction to administrators so that administrators are not working unbounded and in actuality are creating law, rather than applying law,” Malcolm said. “The same thing would be the case here. Congress would set the standards of what it is looking for in a risks/needs assessment.”

The Heritage Foundation also runs a judicial vacancy tracker. It shows that Trump has three times as many judicial vacancies as president Ronald Reagan had at this point in his term.

“The Democrats have used whatever tactics they can to delay people being confirmed to the federal judiciary,” he said. They do that by “eating up floor time with hours and hours of debate in order to delay the confirmation of virtually every judge whom the president has nominated.”

Asked if conservatives should encourage Justice Thomas to retire so Trump could appoint his successor, Malcolm demurred.

“I would never want to push Clarence Thomas out the door,” Malcolm said. “He is a national treasure. He appears to be hale and hearty and enjoying his work. That’s a decision that each individual justice has to make. I assume that perhaps he will check the tea leaves a year out from the election and make whatever decision he wants to make.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
THE LATEST