It’s the smile.
It’s the smile hoisted by Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib as she said yes, she supports the Breathe Act to release federal prisoners and no, she does not support releasing all federal prisoners. But sorta does.
Yes. No. Smile.
Tlaib seemed to be driving Jonathan Swan nuts in an Axios telecast Monday as he attempted to pin her down on what exactly she believes about the Breathe Act.
“But that’s like in plain text!” he exclaimed as she denied advocating for tenets of the act.
Tlaib has been identified, along with Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, as a supporter of the act, which so far has not been introduced into Congress.
The Breathe Act “creates a roadmap for prison abolition specifically by [r]equiring that the U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the [Health and Human Services Department] create and implement a Population Reduction Plan.”
The act comes from an effort by the Movement for Black Lives to reform the U.S. criminal justice system, according to New York Magazine’s The Cut.
MBL’s goals include eventually closing all federal prisons, closing all federal immigration detention centers, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement and federal drug enforcement, defunding police in favor of social welfare and environmental programs and paying reparations to descendants of slaves.
“The Breathe Act proposes emptying federal detention facilities within 10 years,” Swan asked of Tlaib. “To what extent have you wrestled with any potential downsides of releasing into society every single person who’s currently in federal prison?”
Despite throwing up smokescreens regarding imprisoning people with substance abuse problems, young people who are mentally ill with family difficulties and issues of whether or not people can be rehabilitated, Tlaib finally admitted there are some people who should remain in prison.
And it’s mainly because we don’t know how to rehabilitate them.
“But in your vision, there is still — whatever proportion they are — a small proportion who do need to be behind bars?” Swan countered.
Tlaib voiced agreement but added, “I would have to look at every case individually and figure that all out,” giving no indication how she personally could determine the proper course for each individual federal prisoner.
And then, with a smile, she talked about successful rehabilitation efforts she knew of.
Perhaps her smile and her sparring with Swan gives away her true belief in the Breathe Act’s aim of releasing federal prisoners — no matter how evil or violent. But she’s enough of a politician to know that she cannot come out and say that.
Does the smile give away her game?
The Breathe Act has been proposed as a replacement for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act defeated by the Senate earlier this year following passage by the House. That bill called for a national registry of police with unacceptable records, for banning of chokeholds and for improved police training, according to NPR.
The Movement for Black Lives serves as an umbrella organization for some 50 groups, according to MBL’s website.
Tlaib’s congressional district serves part of Detroit, suburban areas to the west and what is called the Downriver area, southwest of Detroit. Although Tlaib is Muslim, her district does not include Dearborn, home of a substantial Muslim population west of Detroit.
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