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April 16, 2018

Two notable recent sentencing commentaries on work ahead for Congress

Thehill-logo-bigIn recent months I have noticed lots of notable sentencing commentary in the publication The Hill.  And Friday The Hill published two sentencing commentaries of note. They are linked below with their first few paragraphs:

"Congress must act to fix our broken criminal justice system" by Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA.) & Mark Walker (R-N.C.):

Our criminal justice system is crumbling.  Over the last 40 years, our domestic incarceration rate has quadrupled, creating a crisis of more than 2 million people behind bars in the United States today.  Simultaneously, recidivism rates have grown or remained high across almost every identifiable demographic or cross section.  And yet, crime rates have steadily fallen.

This paradox exposes a simple fact: our criminal justice system is in desperate need of reform.  What’s more, almost everyone in Congress knows it. Passing significant reforms to our criminal justice system could bring relief to families and communities in every state, district and territory.

Over the past few weeks, at our respective retreats, members of Congress from both parties discussed our priorities.  We believe criminal justice reform needs to be on the top of that list.

Since arriving in Congress, we have seen increasing awareness, education, energy and interest in criminal justice reform, but, to date, we have not been able to enact necessary changes.  Senators have formed working groups.  The House Judiciary Committee passed strong, bipartisan legislation out of committee last year. But no tangible results.  That has to change.

"Reviving the war on drugs is exactly the wrong response to the opioid crisis" by Ames Grawert & James Cullen:

This week on Capitol Hill, lawmakers met to discuss a bill that would impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences on even minor crimes involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl.  The hearing follows news that the Trump administration will seek the death penalty for drug dealers, part of his overall “war on opioids.”

“You just can’t pass a law increasing punishment and expect the opioid crisis to go away,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared to acknowledge at the outset.  “But it’s a pretty good place to start.”

It’s not.  It’s a bad place to start.  This is the logic of mass incarceration, the instinct to always demand the harshest punishment possible. It animates the Trump administration and its Congressional allies on everything from drug policy to immigration.  And it doesn’t work.  Reform advocates can’t be lulled by the false promise of reform.  We need to fight back before we repeat the mistakes of the 1970s.

April 16, 2018 at 09:53 AM | Permalink

Comments

Maybe if you let people buy untaxed gasoline, tobacco, liquor, and vicodin over-the-counter, the market for other drugs will dry up. Maybe America's illicit drug market was created not by the drug cartel, but by the tax-collector . . . or is that an April 15th conspiracy?

Posted by: the Taxman Cometh | Apr 16, 2018 1:06:57 PM

“You just can’t pass a law increasing punishment and expect the opioid crisis to go away,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared to acknowledge at the outset. “But it’s a pretty good place to start.”

I can assure you, not one person using drugs is thinking about the ramifications of their drug use and their possible impeding incarceration. I know this from experience working with offenders - and I think it is common sense too. So, is the logic, you just lock them up and the pool of candidates available to use dries up? Yep, that didn't work in the 80's, 90's, 00, or up until now - so lets look to alternatives such at rehabilitation and treatment.

Posted by: atomicfrog | Apr 16, 2018 1:46:27 PM

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