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March 9, 2015

"Hey, Grandpa: End Mandatory Minimums!"

The title of this post is the headline of this Daily Beast piece highlighting the generational divide which now impacts the fate and future of some proposed federal sentencing reforms. Here are excerpts:

[A] wave of young conservative leaders has been pushing for a variety of reforms to address problems that, in many cases, disproportionately affect the African-American community. The bad news it that these conservatives have a formidable adversary: Their elders.

When word leaked last month the Smarter Sentencing Act would be reintroduced, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, 81, wasted little time in going nuclear. “It is a fact that the so-called Smarter Sentencing Act would cut in half the mandatory minimum sentences that Congress put in place for distributing drugs to benefit terrorists or terrorist organizations,” he said. ... Terrorists?!?

The bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act included Republicans Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Jeff Flake as co-sponsors — hardly the sort to want to help fund terrorists. But this isn’t a new line for Grassley, who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and it isn’t clear whether the terrorist line is a sincere (albeit wrongheaded and crank-ish) concern, or merely a way to kill reform....

According to Vikrant Reddy, a senior policy analyst for the conservative Right on Crime, the generational divide — not the partisan divide — is the issue. “It is true that Senator Grassley has expressed skepticism about the Cruz-Lee proposals, but it is also true that Dianne Feinstein voted against last year’s Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act," Reddy said. “Senators Grassley and Feinstein have very little in common, but they do share a generation: They are both exactly 81 years old.”

Meanwhile, the loudest voices for criminal justice reform in Congress are members of Generation X: Mike Lee is 43, Ted Cruz is 44, and Cory Booker is 45. But Reddy doesn’t want to bash his elders just for the sport of it. There is, he insists, a perfectly good explanation for the generational divide: Grassley and Feinstein came of age in an era of high crime....

But the violent crime rate has consistently dropped in recent decades, and many reformers believe the pendulum has swung too far. “We may be at the point where high levels of incarceration are themselves ‘criminogenic,’ meaning that they actually cause more crime than they prevent, because extremely lengthy prison stays produce high recidivism rates,” says Reddy.

It would be a mistake to return to the bad old days of being soft on crime, but it would also be foolish to fail to adapt to changing times.  Rather than resting on our laurels, we should continue to tweak and fix problems.  Bipartisan agreement is rare in Washington, and it would be a shame to scuttle one of the few areas where conservative reformers have a real opportunity to do well by doing good.

... And they might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling codgers.

March 9, 2015 at 09:21 AM | Permalink


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So America is going to let an 81 yr who knows absolutely zero about the legal system run the countrys federal guidelines. Sams goes for Justice Ginsburg, bless her heart as she is a good person.

Why isnt there guidelines on age and competency. This is why you get a federal judge like Jack Camp taking drugs and driving around with a hooker with 2 loaded hand guns and fets away basically scott free.

Check out the guidelines, this guy should of been nailed.

The same goes for all federal jobs. 70 yrs old is the max age. How in hell can you get anywhere with stagnant minds.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 9, 2015 1:21:57 PM

Feinstein has no room to comment on much. Her husbands last name differs from hers.
He is a realtor that is pocketing nearly a billion bucks off the sale of Post Office buildings that are being sold.

How does this sit with you guys.

She also was a rAdical against guns. She doesnt live in the real woeld. I cannot comprehend how these people continue to get re elected. The competition is that bD.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 9, 2015 1:43:24 PM

sounds to me like both the old screw-ups have lived about 70 years too damn long.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 9, 2015 5:28:10 PM

I do not care if you are a Jew with a sheenie, move to Iran, you act Iranian, after a short time there.

Move to DC, you act rent seeker, even if you are an anarchist opposed to all government.

People will quickly fit into local culture. That is why I want to move the Supreme Court to Wichita, the middle of the nation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 10, 2015 10:17:13 AM

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