The hostility of the radical left-wing sheriff of San Francisco to America's prison system -- not just to federal immigration law -- may have been a factor in the decision to release a Mexican illegal alien who went on to murder young Kate Steinle.
Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (pronounced: Meer-kah-ree-me) is taking heat for releasing Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a 45-year-old illegal alien with a second grade education who reportedly has seven felony convictions and has been deported from the U.S. five times. Federal officials had characterized the man who went on to shoot Steinle at Pier 14 on July 1 as an "enforcement priority" and filed an "immigration detainer" asking jail officials to hold him until they could take custody.
Mirkarimi refused to keep Lopez-Sanchez under lock and key because San Francisco as a policy openly defies federal law by refusing requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold over prisoners. San Francisco is part of the "sanctuary cities" movement that provides havens for illegal aliens by obstructing federal immigration enforcement efforts. The sheriff is an outspoken supporter of that movement.
The sanctuary cities movement gave illegal aliens permission to rob, rape, and murder Americans and is the product of decades of concerted collusion by radical groups like the ACLU and the misnamed Center for Constitutional Rights to get cities to pledge to violate laws that protect U.S. national security. Cheered on by the Left, sanctuary cities frustrate immigration enforcement efforts and shield illegal aliens from federal officials as a matter of policy.
While these so-called sanctuary cities have been hogging the media spotlight, very little attention has been focused on the sheriff's support for a related movement that would "end mass incarceration."
Mirkamiri's advocacy for the EMI movement suggests San Francisco's chief jailer doesn't believe in jailing people, especially if they're non-white or wanted by federal immigration authorities. The movement aims to gut law enforcement and empty prisons nationwide.
“This is a country that has used mass incarceration as its reflex,” Mirkarimi said earlier this year as the anti-prison movement picked up steam and gained new friends in Congress and state legislatures. “Finally, you’re starting to see some inkling of change."
"This country's criminal justice system over generations has been built on an ethos of retribution, and yet, the strain of mass incarceration at the expense of public education funding has reinforced the school-to-prison-pipeline,” Mirkarimi said in May.
“In our jail system in San Francisco, we break from conventional practice and try to marry the concepts that if we want to be tough on crime, then we must also invest in educational opportunities for all, including our inmates and our formerly incarcerated.”
This is a modern American leftist ethos which in previous decades was reduced to the slogan, "bread, not bombs." Government resources spent on the armed forces that protect the nation are wasted. Similarly, using such resources to protect the nation from criminals is also wasted.
And there seems to be no particular reason why Mirkarimi pits “mass incarceration” against public education budgets which in reality expand almost endlessly. It’s a non sequitur that sounds good in a press release but doesn’t make sense upon closer inspection.
It is instructive that the sheriff, who brags that the local jail system is "undercrowded," has a large picture of radical Sixties icon Angela Davis on his office wall.
Davis is an interesting choice of an idol for Mirkarimi, a law enforcement officer. Davis was involved with the Black Panthers and was a fugitive at one time. She ran for vice president of the United States in 1980 and 1984, alongside Gus Hall, on the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) ticket. She later left the party because it was not militant enough for her.
For years she has been leading a movement to free all criminals who are minorities because in her view they are "political prisoners" of the racist United States, victims of the “Prison-Industrial Complex.”
This movement to end mass incarceration rests on two related, tightly interwoven conspiracy theories that are popular on the Left: the “Prison-Industrial Complex” to which Davis refers, and the "New Jim Crow."
The Prison-Industrial Complex is a rehash of the same old hoary Marxist cliches about capitalism served up with different garnishes. It's the kind of conspiracy theory that could have been invented by Michael Moore.
Boiled down, it holds that imprisonment is used in the U.S. not primarily as punishment for wrongdoers but to generate profits for companies that make money off correctional services. Businesses provide security, food, clothing, bedding, and other things to jails and prisons and their greed is insatiable. They lobby and buy off politicians in order to expand correctional facilities and keep their businesses profitable. Rapacious American capitalism makes everyone the victim, from the oppressed prisoners to the stressed-out guards who watch over them.
The idea of the New Jim Crow is that the old Jim Crow, that is, the set of post-Civil War Democrat-imposed policies that segregated blacks from whites and treated blacks as second-class citizens, is back in a new form. Blacks, especially incarcerated blacks, are not free to live their lives as they wish because this invisible new system has made them members of a low caste in American society. The fact that blacks are disproportionately represented in the correctional system has nothing to do with the fact that blacks commit more crimes proportionately than other racial or ethnic groups; instead, left-wingers say, it is proof that the justice system is racist.
The Campaign To End Jim Crow goes further, insinuating on its website that all incarceration is bad:
We challenge the culture of racism, repression and retribution that sustains mass incarceration. We seek to remove the structural injustices inflicted on the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, their families and the communities from which they come. We seek human rights for all members of our society non-violently, in opposition to our current system of justice, which is inherently violent.
Marxists believe that any system of justice in a capitalist society is by definition violent and oppressive. They argue that criminal law enforcement and imprisonment are forms of social oppression and tools of class warfare. The late William Kunstler, the radical attorney for the anti-Vietnam war “Chicago Seven,” argued that every criminal by definition is a victim of injustice. He once said, “Any criminal trial in this country is an oppression.”
Mirkarimi buys into this paranoid small-c communist nonsense. He embraces both conspiracy theories, holding that America's prison system is inherently racist and a corrupt scheme to make the corporations that supply prisons filthy rich.
"While the old Jim Crow laws may have been repealed, they have been repackaged and redesigned into the criminal justice system," he has said. Mirkarimi wants to provide prisoners with more and more services. "The job of sheriff is not to lock up people and throw away the key."
Not surprisingly, this Democrat and convicted wife beater, is inordinately sympathetic to his fellow criminals. The sheriff's office in San Francisco doesn't have a lot of responsibilities. The agency operates the jails and provides security for the courts, City Hall, the 9-1-1/communications center, and various local hospitals and health clinics.
Mirkarimi boasts about how little he does as sheriff. He thinks of himself as more social worker than jailer. He brags about shutting down jails, as well as coddling and freeing criminals, and lavishing social program spending on his felonious flock.
To modify an Obama campaign mantra, Mirkarimi is the change he's been waiting for. Barely a law enforcement official at all, he is using San Francisco's jails to lead his own progressive crusade.
In his official online bio, he spells out his beliefs and accomplishments in a city where the Sixties never ended. Conspicuously absent are any of the assurances one might expect from a law enforcement officer about law and order or protecting society from criminals. Instead, the reader is treated to social-justice bromides and leftist pap.
"Sheriff Mirkarimi understands the role of poverty in the revolving door of recidivism," the bio indicates, "and the need for a credible systemic response to the disproportionate incarceration of people of color."
Mirkarimi complains that people held in pretrial detention get cut off from their families and that life is hard for them when they are eventually released. The fact that these jailbirds should have thought of the ramifications of their crimes before committing them is left out.
His bio on the San Francisco sheriff's website highlights things that don't have to do with law enforcement. It states that before becoming sheriff, Mirkarimi was an elected member of the county board of supervisors. While serving there he is proud to have "authored over 80 ordinances and policy directives, many specializing in public safety and economic inequality[.]"
Criminals are among Mirkarimi's biggest supporters. The sheriff has led voter registration drives within the detention facilities he oversees. He boasts that his department, which has registered thousands of prisoners to vote, is the leader in inmate voter registration in the state.
"We are committed to breaking down the barriers to anyone who wants to exercise their right to vote," he said. "We believe that facilitating a person's right to vote engenders a sense of responsibility and inclusion."
Punishment and protecting the public from criminals is an afterthought for Mirkarimi. Sure, he has to do it for appearances' sake, but to him it's a drag. He much prefers community-organizing his felonious flock.
SF Weekly reported in October 2012 that "[s]trangely enough, prisoners just might have accounted for the highest voter turnout of any group during the last election, with 90 percent of registered voters showing up to the polls in Nov. 2011, according to the sheriff."
Prisoners may have even saved his job after Mirkarimi, who is of Iranian ancestry, roughed up his wife. The inmates the sheriff bathes in city resources laughed off the injuries he inflicted on his spouse.
After the story broke that Mirkarimi assaulted his wife, SF Weekly received a letter six pages long and purportedly signed by 20 inmates. "Nearly everyone in jail feels Mr. Mirkarimi squeezing his lady's arm doesn't even constitute a misdemeanor, even though it behooves them both to not do that ...The controversy over Ross Mirkarimi is not substantial enough to brow-beat it."
Like Mirkarimi, President Obama is pro-illegal alien and that's why he hasn't said a peep about Kate Steinle's murder. At time of writing, the homepage of the White House website featured blurbs highlighting national monuments, women's soccer, and only one important issue, to wit, the government's efforts "to degrade and destroy ISIL."
Acknowledging what one of Obama's beloved illegal aliens did to Steinle would undermine the Left's narrative. Progressives tell Americans every day that illegal alien ranks are filled with talented individuals itching to make America a better place and who ought to have the same rights as U.S. citizens.
Instead of doing something about crime or border security, Obama is taking time out from his busy golf schedule to visit the hoosegow. Later this week he will become the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. Not surprisingly, Obama, like former Attorney General Eric Holder and his successor Loretta Lynch, is a supporter of the EMI movement.
The prison visit is part of the president's consciousness-raising campaign aimed at putting more criminals on the streets where the Left believes they belong. Obama, like Mirkarimi, also wants more criminals voting in elections which would help the Democratic Party because criminals are a natural Democrat constituency.
Both men believe illegal aliens have the right to fully participate in American society -- no matter the cost to Americans like Kate Steinle.