Tim Ryan’s pledges to release ‘all the nonviolent criminals,’ slash prison numbers continue to haunt him

FIRST ON FOX: Ohio Democrat Senate candidate Tim Ryan’s 2019 pledges to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to release “all the nonviolent criminals” and cut the prison population in half came back to haunt him as the contentious race enters its final stretch.

In June 2019, during his ultimately unsuccessful run for president, Ryan was approached by an ACLU “rights for all voter” who asked him if he would commit to reducing the U.S. prison population by 50 percent, should he take the White House.

“I don’t know if it’s by 50 percent or not, but we want to get all the nonviolent criminals out, for sure,” Ryan responded.


Tim Ryan, US Democrat Senate candidate for Ohio, speaks during an Undecided Voter Town Hall in Lancaster, Ohio, US, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.
(Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“I’m all for it,” the Ohio Democrat added.

A month later that year, Ryan fully committed to the ACLU’s pledge to reduce the prison population by 50 percent when asked by another of the organizations’ “rights for all voter.”

“I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but I am for legalizing marijuana, decriminalizing, and getting those people out,” Ryan responded when asked if he would commit to the ACLU pledge.

“So, I don’t know exactly what the number is, but yeah,” he continued.

The ACLU voter pressed Ryan on the subject, saying they wanted a “yes or no” if possible, to which Ryan relented.

“Yes,” Ryan responded.

Nonviolent offenders can be imprisoned for a variety of crimes, from white-collar crimes like insider trading to the distribution of deadly illicit drugs, such as the opioid fentanyl.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) nearly half of the U.S. prison population, 45.2 percent, is made up of drug offenders.

According to a 2015 Department of Justice (DOJ) special report, nearly all of the people in jail on drug charges in 2012 were in prison for drug trafficking.

The BOP data also lists that 11.7 percent of the prison population is in for sex offenses, which can range from violent crimes such as rape to nonviolent crimes, such as the distribution of child pornography.

Additionally, banking, counterfeiting, insurance, and embezzlement crimes came in at 0.1 percent of the prison population, according to the BOP. Immigration crimes came in at 4.8 percent.

Ryan’s campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s questions as to whether he stood by his pledges.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, pledged in 2019 to cut the U.S. prison population in half.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, pledged in 2019 to cut the U.S. prison population in half.
(Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Ryan was slammed by his opponent, Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, over his pledge to decriminalize the possession of all drugs while simultaneously pushing to label fentanyl a “weapon of mass destruction.”

Ryan wants to label the deadly opioid fentanyl a “weapon of mass destruction,” and introduced a congressional resolution to do so, but the 2019 ACLU pledge makes this effort ring hollow as it also calls to decriminalize “all drug possession.”

“If Tim Ryan wants someone’s vote, he will tell them whatever they want to hear,” Vance told Fox News Digital on Wednesday. “The fact that he would pledge to decriminalize the deadly fentanyl flooding our streets is a slap in the face to every family in Ohio that has faced this poison head-on.”

“Tim has had 20 years in Congress to deal with the fentanyl epidemic, but he’s been too busy climbing the political ladder to do anything about it. It’s time for new leadership and real solutions,” Vance added.


The ACLU pledge also calls for bail reform “that reduces the number of people we lock up before trial, often simply because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”

Fentanyl and the opioid pandemic are playing a major role in the midterm elections as more and more Americans are dying from the illicit narcotic flowing across the southern border in crisis.