In an interview with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib inadvertently admitted that she doesn’t fully agree with the bill she endorsed which would eliminate federal prisons over a 10-year period.

The BREATHE Act specifically states that it creates a “roadmap for prison abolition”, by providing for the “full decarceration of federal detention facilities within 10 years”. This plan will also sanction a “moratorium on all new federal prison, jail, immigrant, and youth detention construction”.

Swan posed a straightforward question to Tlaib, asking, “To what extent have you wrestled with any potential downsides of releasing into society every single person who’s currently in a federal prison?” To which Tlaib answered, “I think that everyone’s like ‘oh my god’ we’re gonna just release everybody.” “That’s what the act says!” interjected Swan, clearly surprised by the response she gave. “Yeah…” said Tlaib, “but did you see how many people are mentally ill that are in prison right now?”

Jonathan Swan’s reaction to Tlaib’s blatant misrepresentation of the act she endorsed.

Again, Tlaib totally avoids Swan’s direct question and tries to make it seem like this act is only focused on helping the mentally ill who are imprisoned, which is completely inaccurate. Does she just not understand what the act is that she’s supporting? Because she has endorsed the act in full, not just “parts” of it. Swan tries to explain his question again to her but somehow fails to get through to Tlaib.

“The act you endorsed actually says ‘release everyone’ in 10 years,” said Swan, “but, there are like human traffickers, child sex [offenders]…” “Oh, I know,” laughed Tlaib as if this was just a minor detail that should be overlooked.

Swan tries to get a straight answer out of Tlaib again, asking, “Do you believe that there are still categories of people who should be behind bars?” Tlaib began to respond, saying, “There are absolutely folks that I don’t understand… I don’t know…” Then trailed off and began talking about mental health again and the process of rehabilitation in prisons.

Tlaib finally admits there are still individuals she believes should remain behind bars and should not be put into her idealistic process of rehabilitation, directly conflicting with the explicit propositions of the BREATHE Act. “I would have to look at every case individually and figure that all out,” said Tlaib, not sounding like she had an entirely solid plan for how this big move to abolish federal prisons would work.

Finally, the Michigan Rep. tries to defend her endorsement of this act by giving examples of ex-prisoners who were successfully rehabilitated. Unfortunately, not every criminal is going to be released from prison and become an upstanding citizen and community member, but Tlaib seems too ignorant to acknowledge this as reality.

This interview clearly flustered Tlaib and made it blatantly obvious that she does not know what the BREATHE Act is really about. She is not even confident enough to defend its main points, although she has already endorsed the act in full. Perhaps someone should sit down and explain it to her again?

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