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March 4, 2007

Will sentencing issues surface in the Clinton-Obama battle for black votes?

This front-page New York Times article, entitled "Recalling Civil Rights, Democrats Seek Black Votes," spotlights that the democratic race for the 2008 presidential nomination is creating "one of the most competitive scrambles for black supporters since the Voting Rights Act was passed four decades ago."  In the article, a Clinton adviser says "African-Americans historically align with people based on issues, not personality," and that has me thinking about criminal justice issues in the Clinton-Obama battle for black votes.

As I noted here a weeks ago, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has spoken directly on many crime and punishment issues, but there are plenty of back stories in light of their personal and professional history.  Moreover, I think some bold statements about felon disenfranchisement or the crack/powder disparity or the death penalty could really catch the attention of black voters, many of whom are aware and greatly concerned about the racial skew in the operation of state and federal criminal justice systems.  And yet, as Hillary's husband recognized, being tougher on these issues, not being more progressive, seems to be the key to scoring political points with white voters.

For reasons emphasized in some posts listed below, these issues will be worth watching closely in the months ahead:

March 4, 2007 at 08:54 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Do you really think that publicizing the idea that felons should vote is the way to the White House? Hillary did sponsor a felon voting rights bill, but she has not really touted her support of it. And of course, the media will not ask her about it.

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2007 3:29:36 PM

TalkLeft mentioned a while back that Bill Clinton hosted a blogger round table and expressed regret for some of the criminal laws passed during his administration. Does Hillary agree?

The public would support reform for nonviolent, less demonized crimes if framed as ‘smart on crime’, or, in other words, let's come to our senses.

Posted by: George | Mar 4, 2007 5:20:40 PM

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