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December 27, 2004

The politics of sentencing reform

Monday's New York Times had this powerful editorial by Brent Staples which, in addition to assailing the harms done by harsh mandatory sentencing laws, details some of the often overlooked political forces which impede reform.  Here's an excerpt:

The business of building and running the jailhouse has become a mammoth industry with powerful constituencies that favor the status quo. Prison-based money and political power have distorted the legislative landscape in ways that will be difficult to undo.

December 27, 2004 at 11:44 PM | Permalink


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I have not read the article yet, so I'll just comment on the excerpt you included. I live in North Florida where there are more prisons per captia then anywhere in the world. Why? Because counties here begging for them. Making a living as a farmer is declining, so the counties had to find other revenue and jobs. Of course, the counties do not want to see reform, because it will take away from their economy.

Here is an interesting tidbit too. Did you know when the census was done in 2000 that states and counties could count the inmates in their totals? It makes me wonder if they took those numbers away would Florida have gained additional seats in the US House.

Posted by: cheryl | Dec 28, 2004 8:50:37 AM

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