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September 23, 2016

Eager to hear sharp suggestions for sharp Prez debate questions on criminal justice issues

Next week kicks off the Prez debate season, and I am certainly among the "yuge" number of folks really, really excited to see how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will perform and engage with the issues and each other on the big debate state starting on Monday.  Among the reasons I am so excited this season, beyond the obvious and diversely distinctive entertainment value of both candidates, is because it seems quite likely that criminal-justice-related issues will be major topics of discussion (especially, of course, with respect to immigration policy/enforcement and police/citizen encounters).

As readers know, I am regularly rooting for sentencing-specific (and/or "war on drugs/marijuana") topics to take center stage at debates, and I am regularly disappointed that these topics either fail to get raised or get raised in ways that make it too easy for the candidates to respond with only fuzzy rhetoric.  But now because Trump has made "law and order" a focal point of his recent campaign, and especially because both candidates have through the years made notable statements on topics ranging from the death penalty to mass incarceration to drug policy, I am yet again hopeful (though still not really optimistic) that the issues that consume this blog could be end up being discussed at some length and with some real bite at one or more of the coming debates.

Ever eager to help those with the challenging task of planning and moderating the coming debates, I am now eager to hear from readers in the comments throughout the weekend about what criminal justice issues they hope to see raised in the debates.  I would be especially eager, as the title of this post highlights, to read in the comments actual suggested questions that are crafted in sharp ways to try to help ensure the candidates cannot get away with fuzzy answers.   I genuinely doubt that the first debate moderator, Lester Holt, is a regular reader of the comment section of this blog, but you never know.

So, dear readers, my weekend challenge is to urge comment with some sharp suggestions for sharp Prez debate questions on criminal justice issues.

September 23, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Permalink


I have one---should local police forces give a free pass to people who are throwing rocks etc. at motor vehicles simply because there's a riot in progress?

Posted by: federalist | Sep 23, 2016 11:29:02 AM

People have noted that Trump's support of stop/frisk is silly (or some other adjective) because that is basically a matter of local control.

But, I think the comment does suggest various things that has presidential implications, such as policy for federal officials, how the Justice Department will treat civil rights claims including oversight of local police departments in certain cases and possible judicial picks etc.

A question that would clarify this sort of thing for both candidates would add some light.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 23, 2016 12:21:32 PM

For Trump, the best question have obvious right answers that he won't give.

"Mr. Trump, should people accused of killing police officers get the same trial rights as other defendants?"

"Mr. Trump, should juveniles who commit serious crimes, like rape and armed robbery, be sentenced under the death penalty under the right circumstances?"

"Mr. Trump, should our country increase or decrease its spending on prisons?"

Posted by: Andrew Fleischman | Sep 23, 2016 1:13:22 PM

Mr. Trump, should hispanic defendants have the right to recuse anglo judges?

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Sep 23, 2016 1:40:01 PM

I would like to see Holt ask both candidates the following true or false questions about crime and incarceration to see how well informed they are about verifiable facts (the correct answer to every question is "true"):
1. The USA murder rate in 2013 was the lowest rate ever recorded in FBI data going back to 1960.
2. The USA murder rate in 2014 matched the record low in 2013
3. The most recent national data from the FBI showed a 6% increase in murders in the first six months of 2015 compared to the first six months of 2014, and if that increase held through all of last year then the 2015 murder rate would still be lower than the murder rate in 1960 or 1961 or in any year from 1964 through 2010.
4. The 2014 robbery rate was the lowest since 1966 and the FBI data for the first six months of 2015 showed that we were on track to match the low in 2014 or set a new record low in 2015.
5. The aggravated assault rate in 2014 was the lowest since 1975 and FBI data for the first six months of 2015 showed a 3% increase, putting us on track for 2015 to be be the third lowest rate ever recorded since 1976.
6. The 2014 burglary rate was the lowest rate recorded since 1962, and the FBI reported another 10% drop in burglaries in the first six months of 2015, putting us on track for 2015 to be the lowest rate ever recorded by the FBI in data going back to 1960.
7. The 2014 motor vehicle theft rate was also the lowest rate since 1962, and FBI data for the first six months of 2015 showed we were on track to slightly exceed the record low in 2014, with the second lowest rate since 1963.
8. From 1991-2014, violent crime arrest rates fell 65% for juveniles (under 18) and 50% for ages 18-24, but increased 21% for adults ages 50-54.
9. From 1994-2014, property crime arrest rates fell 73% for juveniles and 39% for ages 18-24, but increased 34% for adults ages 50-54.
10. From 2001-2014, male incarceration rates fell 62% for ages 18-19, 38% for ages 20-24, and 27% for ages 25-29.
11. Black male incarceration rates fell from 2001 to 2014 by 62% for ages 18-19, 51% for ages 20-24, and 46% for ages 25-29.

Posted by: Rick Nevin | Sep 24, 2016 6:24:23 PM

Question to both:

1) have you ever been arrested or detained ?

2) has your email ever been hacked ?

Posted by: Melanie L Lopez | Sep 25, 2016 12:32:31 PM

What actions would Putin have to take before you would be willing to arrest him for crimes against humanity?

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 25, 2016 7:23:36 PM

Question to both:

1) Would you direct DOJ and all federal law enforcment agencies to seize "entrapment" operations ?

2) Would you direct DOJ attorneys to no longer deceive federal jurors but to timely follow Brady obligations at all times and with vigor and no exception?

Posted by: Melanie L Lopez | Sep 26, 2016 3:30:46 AM

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