• Calbengoshi

    In order to ask the question posed by the author at the end, one would have to assume that the politicians in office now are the same ones who were in office in the 1990s when laws were passed imposing long mandatory sentences, etc. While undoubtedly some of the politicians in office now were in office then, it’s highly unlikely that they comprise a majority in Congress or in any state legislature.

    Nevertheless, it is reasonable to question whether politicians, then or now, really had or have a sufficient understanding of the causes of crime and the impacts of incarceration to be able to craft any solution that actually might work.

  • Dobby the House Elf

    Levitt and Dubner in their book ‘Freakonomics’ make a convincing argument that the great drop in American crime which began in the early 1990s can be attributed primarily to the legalization of abortion in 1973.

  • embo66

    Politicians are always the last to know / get it / have the courage to make a change. It’s taken years of tireless effort from folks like the Legalize It crowd to make others aware of how draconian — and unevenly applied — our drug sentencing policies have become. And it’s taken a movement like #BlackLivesMatter to open America’s eyes to how law enforcement practices (and housing laws and investment practices and …) have created a permanent underclass in this country.

    As for Democrats being called on to reverse their own policies . . . Love of law and order has always been a conservative thing. Democrats embraced it during the 90s for the reasons listed above — and because the party under Clinton was tacking Right in order to survive another day.

    But Dems have always been for at least a balance between incarceration and social policies aimed at preventing the damn crime to begin with. So I don’t expect any of them who are still around now (e.g., Hillary, Bernie) to have any problems readjusting to the country’s new enlightenment about crime and punishment.

  • Detroitdic

    Work backwards to the solution by returning the sentencing power to the judges and letting them set some reasonable prison sentences or alternate, non-incarceration punishments. Let the punishment fit the crime. Make sure penalties are sure and swift but not cruel. Elect or appoint judges who have a work ethic and get rid of judges whose golf games are too important. Maybe then we can start making progress and get some needlessly locked up people off the public rolls.

  • pixie-n-dix

    There was a great deal of noise made that there was disparate sentencing from one federal district court to another and that “something” had to be done. Unfortunately, the push for consistency in sentencing led to nonsensical “rating” of offenses so that crack cocaine was “rated” differently from powder and the classifications of various drugs (naturally grown and pharmaceutical) were done, it seems, more from emotion than from any other standard.

    Add to this the prison “industry” that provides employment and business for commissary and food businesses and you have a formula for what we see today.

    Rather than do a piecemeal reform why are the groups against mandatory sentencing not enlisting the vociferous assistance of religious groups, parents groups, educators, business groups—and the loudmouths in the media who would rather cover naked women in Times Square, hot dog eating contests, talentless women with large derrieres, online dating, and other things that professionals should be embarrassed to broadcast and write about.

    Why not have candidates explain why they are not doing things to resolve this morass? Why give the religious community a pass on making specific proposals to resolve this morass? Why give the educators who spout off about everything else and pretend to be scholars a pass on doing something important?

    Decriminalize? Make legal? How about letting the courts impose sanctions on folks who are being anti social and who are terrorizing others or driving drunk or stoned or stupid or stealing from them or committing fraud and wrecking the delivers of needed medical services or poisoning us or purveying garbage? That is easy.

    We do not shame. So we need prisons.

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