July 16, 2013
Could significant federal criminal justice reforms become more likely if the GOP wins Senate in 2014?
The question in the title of this post was my first thought after seeing this post by Nate Silver at his 538 blog headlined "Senate Control in 2014 Increasingly Looks Like a Tossup." I am not counting any Senate chickens at least until this time next summer, but I also do not think it is crazy for folks who favor significant federal sentencing reforms to actually believe such reforms might actually become more politically viable if the Senate were to change political hands while Barack Obama is still the President.
A lot would depend, of course, on the circumstances and results of the 2014 election cycle and especially on who would play leadership roles in a GOP-led Senate. But if, for example, Senator Rand Paul and other libertarian-leaning Senator were to become chairs of key Senate Judiciary subcommittees, I think the odds of significant federal criminal justice reforms getting through Congress might actually go up.
I fear that some commentors will ask what I am smoking when raising this notion, and I do fear that this post may be just some serious wishful thinking on my part. But, hey, if folks are going to start predicting election outcomes for 2014, why not have some fun speculating on what those outcomes could mean for sentencing law and policy?
Some recent and older related posts:
- When and how will state GOP leaders start cutting expensive criminal justice programming? (post from Nov 2010 right after elections predicting new Republican Govs would have to lead some reform efforts)
- Examining the politics of crime and punishment in modern gubernatorial settings
- "Right on Crime: The Conservative Case for Reform" officially launches
- "NAACP, right-wing foes get friendly" when it comes to prison costs
- "Conservatives latch onto prison reform"
- NAACP head recognizes Tea Party favors some progressive criminal justice reforms (and sometimes more than Democrats)
- "Prison-Sentence Reform: A bill to give judges flexibility to impose shorter sentences deserves conservatives’ support."
- Wall Street Journal pitch for the Prez to get behind the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013
- Justice Safety Valve Act gets bipartisan introduction in House of Representatives
- "Bipartisan Legislation To Give Judges More Flexibility For Federal Sentences Introduced"
- Rand Paul begins forceful pitch in campaign against federal mandatory minimums
- Another notable GOP member of Congress advocating for federal sentencing reform
- "As Prisons Squeeze Budgets, GOP Rethinks Crime Focus"
July 16, 2013 at 05:03 PM | Permalink
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I think its good to look at the postive side and have hopes. After all who would of thought the federal system could go that far south...
Rand PAul has some fortitude that many others donot have and is wants to undo the chain and ball that many get tangled into with the Feds.
Posted by: MidWest Guy | Jul 17, 2013 9:35:27 AM
I love your optimism, even if it is a little other-worldly. On the other hand, I think you're on to something in thinking that, when Sen. Cruz becomes chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, and I come in as chief of staff, there will indeed be "reforms."
Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 17, 2013 2:29:16 PM
"The times they are a changin" sung by Bob Dylan may be applicable here. I hope so anyway! My friend since high school, George Martorano is serving his 30th year of a "Life Without Parole" federal sentence for marijuana trafficking. George was a 1st time non-violent offender that never even had a parking ticket before receiving this draconian sentence! I have no law background. I am just an observer that has seen the tragedy and family devastation these types of "Mandatory Minimums" impose. I also watch shows like Investigation Discovery and see murderers getting 10-15-20 years or even Life sentences with parole, so they are returning to the streets to re-offend. We are upside down and you don't need a law degree to see that. There are many elderly ill men who are waiting to die in prison. If something is not done not only change these laws but make them retroactive, these men will be replaced by many others. We need to take a good look at our justice system and take the common sense approach!
Posted by: Jane Strauss | Jul 18, 2013 8:05:16 PM
in his 30th year for a bullshit charge? how many excape attempts? how many hurt or dead guards in that time?
if he's still there. He's not trying!
Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 19, 2013 3:56:25 AM