Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Back to the 1970s

Reviewing some of the information about the perpetrators of the atrocity in Belgium, two things strike me.  First of all, since they were citizens, you couldn't have shown them the door.  Sorry, Mr. Combover.  While I'm all in favor of increased scrutiny of immigrants, and showing the door to those who violate our laws, that's not at issue here.

Second, both of them had some pretty serious criminal convictions--one for shooting at police officers with a Kalishnikov during an attempted robbery of a currency exchange office in 2010, and another for carjacking and possession of forbidden assault rifles in 2011.   One served about five years of a nine year sentence, and the other was sentenced to probation.

Now of course hindsight is 20/20, but it strikes me that in these sad and tragic cases, the Belgians specifically and the EU nations in general need to consider whether it might be a very good idea to do what the United States did in the 1970s and 1980s; reduce judges' latitude to impose lenient sentences.  And in doing so, it appears that they could strike at the heart of ISIS, which apparently is concentrating its recruiting among young criminals of middle eastern descent.

Come to think of it, as the United States contemplates sentencing reform (a pivot back to the 1970s in many ways), we might ask ourselves what we're signing up for, too.

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