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April 2, 2007

The state of punishment and prisons ... and changing times

In the latest New York Review of Books, Jason DeParle has this terrific piece entitled "The American Prison Nightmare."  The article is a must-read, in part because it provides highlights of three recent works about sentencing and corrections that are all really must-reads in their own right.  The article is full of data, critical insights and fresh perspectives (as are the books being reviewed).

There's too much good stuff in the article to summarize, so I will pinpoint one great closing passage that highlights why I am cautiously hopeful that the 2008 election campaign could beget some better talk (and eventually better times) on sentencing and corrections issues:

In December, Senator Sam Brownback announced he was running for president.  A few days later, the conservative Kansas Republican chose to spend the night in a cell at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. "We don't want to build more prisons," he said.  "We don't want to lock people up."  He was there to advertise his support for the prison's religious programs.  Still, his move represented, to say the least, a break with past presidential campaign practice, which includes advertising the crimes of a black rapist (George H.W. Bush), executing a brain-damaged man (Bill Clinton), and mocking the fears of a soon-to-be-executed woman (George W. Bush).

Some related posts on modern sentencing politics:

April 2, 2007 at 05:16 PM | Permalink


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