« Bureau of Justice Statistics releases "Capital Punishment, 2018 – Statistical Tables" | Main | "Youth Justice Under the Coronavirus: Linking Public Health Protections with the Movement for Youth Decarceration" »

September 29, 2020

Any suggestions for sharp Prez debate questions on criminal justice issues?

Tonight begins the Prez debate season, though I am probably more looking forward to the MLB post-season.  I made the case in this post last month for why I think we ought to somehow arrange for one of the upcoming debates to be entirely about criminal justice issues, but that seems unlikely to happen either formally or informally.  Still, though these topics never get enough attention for my taste, I am hopeful  that the issues that consume this blog could be end up being discussed at some length and with some real bite tonight or at one or more of the coming debates.

Ever eager to help those with the challenging task of executing these debates, I am now eager to hear from readers in the comments  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 any of the debate moderators are regular readers of the comment section of this blog, but you never know.

So, dear readers, what are your sharp suggestions for sharp Prez debate questions on criminal justice issues?

September 29, 2020 at 04:52 PM | Permalink


When are the people of this Country going to say, enough is enough and correct the illegal sentences of people in the Federal prison system? The Federal Gov. charging and sentencing people on conspiracy "ghost dope" charges to decades in prison. Their only evidence is the word of someone else who was arrested, most the time, neither of them in possession of drugs. Not a speck of an illegal drug on them, in their homes, in their cars and not one transaction recorded or witnessed by a any law official. These people say whatever they can, about every person they know, making amounts up in their drug frazzled minds (really I can't remember what I did last week and it's amazing how these people can come up with dates and amounts on their friends while doing Meth...) who is trying to lower their drug sentence. Literally people are being sentenced on words only, alot innocent. I have heard many a horror story of people "telling" on someone else to get their girlfriend and sending this person to 10 years in prison. The sad thing is, they plead guilty because they are told, in Federal courts the words of others are considered evidence and they will make sure they get at least 40 years in prison. They force them to plead guilty then add enhancements that should be applied to Kingpins, and major drug leaders, not people who were never caught with drugs, ever. They are arrested and charged for whatever amounts the people trying to get a lighter sentence say, and of course they enbelish because the Feds want more.. This must stop, it could be your child, sibling, parent or friend next. Any State would never charge anyone without evidence, only the Federal Justice System. This is so unconstitutional I didn't believe it till it happened to someone I love. 15 years on words only. Most people do not know about this and if this was common knowledge? It would end and these people behind bars, let go. It is especially an epidemic in the Fort Worth, TX area, and thanks to Judges like John Mcbryde, who love to sentence people to decades on words, it's a travesty. One after the other, people being charged with word drugs- adding up "said" amounts and charging these people like it was in their pocket. Repeal the Federal Government from being able to charge people on words only, make them work for a conviction like the rest of the country's law enforcement. Imagine watching a TV show and the police bring in a Gangster and he "tells" of drug dealing and the amounts and they are happy with that, end of show, 90% of people would say, "That was so unrealistic, would never happen" Welcome to the Federal Justice system, yes it can, and it does-EVERY SINGLE DAY, multiple times. Set these people free who are in prison for decades for this horrible policy and violation of their constitutional rights.

Posted by: ELI | Sep 30, 2020 5:30:52 AM

I would like to ask them if they think the sentencing reform in the First Step Act was a good idea? Was it changed because it was wrong, draconian, and grotesque?

The last question would be if it was wrong do you as President plan to make the sentencing reform retroactive within your first 90 days since it was wrong and things like stacked 18 U.S.C. 924 (c) charges disproportionately destroy African Americans.

Posted by: Chad Marks | Sep 30, 2020 5:42:08 AM

After last night's debate, I am not sure that any question is going to matter. The two candidates are not going to respond to questions that they do not want to answer and are going to talk over each other.

On criminal justice questions, Trump will try to both attack Biden for his role in drafting the current strict laws back in the 1990s (when perhaps there was a need for stricter laws) and claiming that Biden is in bed with the force of lawlessness. Biden will talk in general terms about the need for more fairness in applying the law and getting rid of systematic bias and bad cops. I am not sure that either is going to commit to a "Second Step Act" much less specific proposals for such an act.

Posted by: tmm | Sep 30, 2020 12:10:31 PM

I would like to ask them if they think it is fiscally responsible for nonviolent marihuana offenders to be serving sentences of life without parole and other egregious sentences while billions of dollars are being invested in the marijuana industry. Does this
conflict compromise the integrity of our criminal justice system?

If federal law designates marijuana as more dangerous than fentanyl
and oxycontin, how can the federal government wink at the industry?

Posted by: beth curtis | Sep 30, 2020 5:36:11 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB