October 5, 2016
Leading VP candidates talk a bit (encouragingly?) about criminal justice reform their only debate
There was a little discussion of policing, sentencing and criminal justice reform at last night's vice presidential debate, and I found most notable the fact that the GOP's VP candidate Mike Pence at one point said plainly and without reservation "We need criminal justice reform." (The Democrats' GOP VP candidate Tim Kaine also talked, somewhat unsurprisingly, about the death penalty when asked how his personal faith created challenges for him in make political decisions.) Perhaps even more important than the Gov Pence's simple statement that we "need" criminal justice reform was this further explanation of what he meant in this Q&A with the debate moderator (with my emphasis added):
QUIJANO: Your fellow Republican, Governor Pence, Senator Tim Scott, who is African-American, recently spoke on the Senate floor. He said he was stopped seven times by law enforcement in one year.... He said, "I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you're being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself." What would you say to Senator Scott about his experiences?
PENCE: Well, I have the deepest respect for Senator Scott, and he's a close friend. And what I would say is that we -- we need to adopt criminal justice reform nationally. I -- I signed criminal justice reform in the state of Indiana, Senator, and we're very proud of it.
I worked when I was Congress on a second chance act. We have got to do a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that do reflect on institutional bias in criminal justice.
These statements reinforces my belief that, once we get fully through this election cycle, there is a really good chance that the still-growing bipartisan consensus supporting some form of federal statutory sentencing reform will finally be able to get some form of some bill through both houses of Congress and to the desk of the new President. Of course, who wins seats in Congress and who is the new Prez and VP will certainly significantly impact what ends up in a federal statutory sentencing reform bill that gets to the desk of the new Prez. But now hearing GOP's VP candidate Pence talking up the "need" to adopt criminal justice reform "nationally" has me now distinctly (and foolishly?) optimistic that some kind of statutory reforms will be signed into law sometime during the next Congress.
For more background on what both leading VP candidates have said and done on the criminal justice reform front, I recommend this new Huffington Post article headlined "Here’s How Tim Kaine And Mike Pence Measure Up On Criminal Justice: The two vice presidential candidates have pushed for similar criminal justice policies at times."
October 5, 2016 at 09:10 AM | Permalink