Friday, April 18, 2014

Illinois: 43 Pardons

Gov. Pat Quinn, who has exercised clemency more than 1,000 times since taking office, has granted 43 pardons.

A news release says the grants "are part of dockets that date back to 2007." Recipients have "recently undergone criminal background checks."

See story here.

California: 63 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gov. Jerry Brown's office has granted 63 pardons (see details here) "tying the clemency decisions to Good Friday." According to the Times, Brown has granted 314 "at Christmas and Easter" since he took office in 2011. A news release also observed:
“A gubernatorial pardon may be granted to people who have demonstrated exemplary behavior and have lived productive and law-abiding lives following their conviction, ... Pardons are not granted unless they are earned.”
It is also reported that Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson combined granted 29 pardons over 20 years. See story here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Obama's Commutation for a Typo? B-O-R-I-N-G !

Once upon a time, (or, more specifically, on January 11, 1904), Kid Kelley murdered one Jim Dillingham at Tishomingo (in "Indian Territory"). Kelley was convicted on November 28, 1905, and sentenced to be hanged on February 23, 1906. The hanging was delayed while the case was appealed, but things seemed to settle a bit once the conviction was upheld by the Indian Territory Court of Appeals (on September 26, 1907). A “writ of error” was allowed, however, and on October 10, the case was forward to the United States’ Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which granted a stay of execution.

That is when Oklahoma became the 46th State in the Union.

The files for Kid Kelley's case were transferred from the United States' Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to the newly created Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma. But that court packed them all right back up and sent them over to the newly created Criminal Court of Appeals (in the Federal system). On April 9, 1909, the Attorney General of the United States filed a motion to have Kelley's case removed from the docket of the Criminal Court of Appeals. In his mind, the "final decision" had been rendered by the Indian Territory Court of Appeals way back in 1907. The Criminal Court of Appeals agreed with the Attorney General on November 18, 1909.

But while the big debate over whether the case should be settled in the state's judicial system or the federal judicial system, the Indian Territory Court of Appeals went out of existence. State officials - including the Governor - contended Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction over Kelley's case and suggested Federal authorities step in.

Kid Kelley sat in prison and waited.

And he waited some more.

Ten years later, he was still waiting.

The New York Times credited an Oklahoma newspaperman for discovering this mess and setting in motion a “movement” to have Kelley released ... or hanged! Finally, in 1922, the Attorney General of the United States took charge. First, the Attorney General concluded that it “appeared from the testimony” a more proper charge for the Kelley case would have been “manslaughter.” It was then observed that Kid (who was not much of a kid any more) had, by that time, been in custody for over seventeen years - almost twice the length of the sentence one could be given for the crime of manslaughter. Kelley’s sentence was commuted to time served “at once.”

More Chatter from the White House

Katheryn Ruemmler
USA Today Reports President Obama "is reviewing the process" for granting pardons. More specifically, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler says:
"The president believes that one important purpose can be to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people have since recognized are no longer in the best interests of justice," 
Ruemmler also says the administration will attempt to "get the word out" to prison inmates that the president has the power to pardon:
"This effort also reflects the reality that our overburdened federal prison population includes many low-level, nonviolent offenders without significant criminal histories." 
and
"the administration believes there is a larger pool of meritorious candidates for both pardons and commutations, and encouraged both types of applications."
Ruemmler's comments come on the heels of similar comments by :
- the President
- the Attorney General
- the Deputy Attorney General
- and about every scholar in the world who has ever given this topic any degree of serious thought. See story here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Obama Commutes Sentence to Correct Error

The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama has granted the 10th commutation of sentence in his administration. It is reported that an "error" was made "in a report used to sentence convicted drug dealer Ceasar Cantu of Katy, Texas, and resulted in 3 1/2 extra years being added to his prison term." Obama thus commuted the sentence (handed down in 2006) from 180 months, to 136 months.

Jay Carney says, "Given the circumstances of this case and the manifest injustice of keeping a person in federal prison for an extra three and a half years because of a typographical mistake, the president wanted to act as quickly as possible." See story here. and here.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog News: New Ranking

The Pardon Power Blog has been ranked among the Top 50 Criminal Law Blogs. More specifically, the site Criminal Justice Degree Schools has ranked this blog 13th, based upon "website metrics including Page Authority, number of websites linking to the blog, MozRank, Google PageRank, and Domain Rank. The data is taken from third party sources including Opensiteexplorer.org, Google, and Ahrefs.com."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gov. Mike Beebe, Who Does He Think He Is?

Gov. Mike Beebe
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe just doesn't get it.

The man uses the clemency power, a check and balance explicitly provided to him by his State's Constitution, on a regular basis, yes, even monthly! For some reason(s), he does not do nothing for many months in a row - like many State governors, and the President of the United States. Nor does Beebe simply wait until December to grant pardons. Why, he isn't even waiting until the last days and hours of his term to dump pardons (in the manner of Haley Barbour). This man, Beebe, is granting pardons right and left, as though the power given to him was meant to be used - not neglected for long periods of time, or abused.

Apparently, Beebe has not gotten the memo, informing him that, if he is not careful, he might be "Willie Hortoned"! Richard Nixon outlawed coddling up to criminals in the late 1960s. Who doesn't know this?

Beebe does not seem to comprehend that critics will eagerly misrepresent his decisions as having overruled the decision making of judges and juries. Why, even Governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin) gets this, and refuses to even allow the great American tradition of executive clemency to be anywhere near his State's criminal justice system. George Washington and James Madison may have coddled up to Whiskey Rebels and Baratarian Pirates, but the legendary contributor to the Republic, Scott Walker, is no such wimp.

Beebe's pardons fall so regularly, in such an even-handed manner, why, one suspects he sees clemency as a regular part of the business of being governor and that, perhaps, he may even have a systematic approach to what he is doing, maybe even a clear set of standards. How in the world can this kind focus and rationality be tolerated even as Mitt Romney brags about having pardoned no one? It is baffling.

Google away looking for stories of how Beebe's pardons have "backfired" - how he has sprung violent criminals from prisons for no apparent reason, only to see them reek havoc on society once again. Google away. It is almost like there is nothing there. Nothing whatsoever. How is Beebe getting away with this, month after month, year after year? It is downright baffling.

One has to wonder: how many other governors could be doing this?

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe’s
Clemency Record
Month
Year
Pardons / Commutations
April
2014
10
March
2014
9
February
2014
5
January
2014
4
December
2013
7
November
2013
3
October
2013
7
September
2013
7
August
2013
3
July
2013
4
June
2013
7
May
2013
8
April
2013
6
March
2013
8
February
2013
5
January
2013
3
December
2012
7
November
2012
7
October
2012
7
September
2012
4
August
2012
5
July
2012
6
June
2012
9
May
2012
7
April
2012
7
March
2012
6
February
2012
7
January
2012
4

172

Arkansas: 10 Pardons

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Mike Beebe has announced his intent to grant pardons to 10 convicts. Per usual, each has "completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole-and-probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences." Among the offenses addressed: Possession of Methamphetamine and Marijuana, Possession of Ephedrine with Intent to Manufacture Methamphetamine (1999),  Breaking or Entering, Battery, Possession of a Firearm by a Certain Person (1991, 1994) Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver (1990) Theft of Property (2000) Burglary (1967), Theft of Property, Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia (1997, 2001) Possession of Methamphetamine and Drug Paraphernalia (2001) Breaking or Entering, Theft of Property (1993) Possession of Hydrocodone (2006)  See full story here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Arizona: Jan Brewer's Continuing Train Wreck

On November 24, 2009, the Arizona state Board of Executive Clemency recommended clemency (a reduction in sentence) for 65-year old Patrick Maloney, who had been convicted of murdering his mother and stepfather almost a half a century ago, when he was 15 years old. Brewer has also reduced the sentence of Betty Smithey, who was sentenced to life without parole in 1963 for killing a child, but was paralyzed when the same Board recommended clemency for William Macumber, on the grounds of actual innocence! See story here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Coming Wave of Commutations: Why You Should be Neither Shocked Nor Annoyed

On December 19, 2013, President Obama granted 8 commutations of sentence. It was the highest number of commutations granted by a president, in a single day, since 1970 - excluding the last-minute clemency caper of Bill Clinton. Commutations of sentence have been extremely rare since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. But those in-the-know say hundreds, that 's right, hundreds are likely to be granted before President Obama leaves office.

Do we believe it? Well, we retain the right to a healthy skepticism, but are always, yes always hopeful that some president, any president at all, will take the pardon power more seriously, and will become a more active participant in the Nation's approximation of justice - just exactly as the Founding Fathers intended. So, should the commutations of sentence come raining from the sky (relatively speaking), here are six reasons why you should be neither shocked nor annoyed:

1. THE CONSTITUTION: The pardon power was given to the president on the assumption that the legislative branch (Congress) and the judicial branch (the federal courts) are not perfect. Anyone care to disagree?

2. EXPERIENCE: Alexander Hamilton correctly observed, in Federalist 74, that the criminal codes of nations have an almost natural tendency toward over-severity - see recent conservative / libertarian commentary on the "over-criminalization" of the law (over 4,000 federal criminal laws), and the expansion of the "nanny-state." For this reason, argued Hamilton, there should be "easy access" to mercy in any justice system. We (Americans) are clearly failing to realize this vision of justice.

3. NEGLECT: Although, today, and in recent decades, acts of clemency have typically been pardons, there was a considerable period of time when presidents routinely granted just as many commutations of sentence, if not more. This changed with the creation of alternative release mechanisms, such as probation and parole, in the early 1900s. But federal parole was abolished in the 1980s.  Despite the recent boom in our federal prison population, there has been no subsequent re-emergence of commutations of sentence. There should have been. The ball was dropped.

4. CALM: Everyone agrees that "Law and Order" campaigns of Richard Nixon left their mark on American politics, firmly implanting the retributive justice model in our system of criminal justice, and perhaps discouraging presidents from pardoning (for fear of being lambasted as being "soft" on crime). Trends in crime statistics were truly alarming and the percentage of the public that perceived crime as the "major" problem facing the nation was large. That is all fine and well, but this is now. The downward trends in the most alarming criminal statistics are well known, and Americans are increasingly focused on (more concerned about) economic issues.

5. ECONOMICS: Speaking of economics, prisons are not cheap. Failing prison systems are even more costly. Increasingly, it makes perfect sense to ask, "What are we getting for our money?" If there are high rates of recidivism, why? If we are going to reject concerns about rehabilitation on the front end, can we at least consider the potential benefits of rehabilitation when we actually have someone incarcerated? If what is going on in prisons is not working so well, might it make sense to look for solutions outside of prison? If executives can save money by commuting sentences and employing alternative (and potentially less expensive and more effective) "punishments" ... then what on earth should stand in their way? Be very aware: today, increasingly, liberals and conservatives are seeing eye to eye on this.

6. JUSTICE: The fact of the matter is that our costly prisons are packed with literally thousands of young, first-time offenders, non-violent offenders who are serving lengthy sentences - especially for drug violations. They were sentenced under a law (set of guidelines) that both parties in both chambers of Congress have sense recognized as ineffective if not outright unfair (see Item 1, above). They would not even be in prison right now, if they had been sentenced under current law. Arguably, not a single one of them should spend another single day in federal prison. Their sentences should be commuted yesterday. These are, of course, the kinds of individuals which President Obama's recent commutations focused on. Relatively, speaking, Obama's commutations are little grains, on a tiny tip, of an enormous iceberg. Even if, over the next two years, the President commutes the sentence of "hundreds," it is likely to be a very small proportion of those similarly situated.

It is time for the presidency to, once again, become engaged in the business of justice and our system of checks and balances - just as the Founders intended. Let the commutations land. Be at peace with the idea, America. Let the objections and complaints that are surely to follow 1) be filtered for partisanship and animosity toward the president and 2) be contained in the area of discourse where they deserve to be: around the edges, and only reflective of the timing of the President's behavior and / or the quality of decision making in particular cases.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Arkansas: 9 Pardons

Governor Mike Beebe - one of the nation's most frequent and consistent pardoning governors -  has announced 9 pardons. In addition, 59 clemency requests were denied. Per usual, the 9 recipients "have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole-and-probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences." Per usual, there are "no law-enforcement objections. Among the offenses addressed in the pardons: Delivery of cocaine, domestic battery, theft of property, breaking or entering, possession of controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Long Odds of Presidential Mercy

The Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA), in the Department of Justice, has quite the workload (of new and pending applications - see chart below). In recent years, it has simply not been able to keep up (note the increasing gap between the top of the blue line and the top of the red line as you move to the right of the chart). When the OPA does act (blue), it is increasingly freakishly rare that it does so in a positive manner (yellow). Most (as in almost all) clemency applications are denied outright, or closed without presidential action.

Click on image (above) to enlarge

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Updated Clemency Statistics


President
Granted Pardon Applications
Granted Commutation Applications
All Applications
Nixon
1 in every 2
1 in every 15
1 in every 3
Ford
1 in every 3
1 in every 25
1 in every 4
Carter
1 in every 3
1 in every 36
1 in every 5
Reagan
1 in every 5
1 in every 100
1 in every 8
H.W. Bush
1 in every 10
1 in every 245
1 in every 19
Clinton
1 in every 5
1 in every 90
1 in every 16
W. Bush
1 in every 13
1 in every 779
1 in every 55
Obama
1 in every 30
1 in every 1,010
1 in every 175


Friday, February 28, 2014

Life for Pot: Press Release

Life for Pot - Release Nonviolent Drug Offenders 
100 Hale Road, Zanesville, Ohio 43701 

To: President Barack Obama,  Attorney General Eric Holder,  Deputy Attorney General James Cole,

A SUGGESTION FOR ADDRESSING OUR PROPENSITY FOR OVERINCARCERATION: CLEMENCY AND THE WAR ON DRUGS

Grant a systemic or group Presidential Clemency to a unique category of nonviolent federal inmates. This group would be nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences of life without parole or de facto life without parole. Model this clemency on the clemency granted by President Gerald Ford and President Jimmy Carter who gave clemency to those who had violated the Selective Service Act during the War in Viet Nam. The War on Drugs has been an equally divisive war imprisoning a generation of men and women. 

Our prolonged War on Drugs has left this country with a legacy of thousands of nonviolent offenders serving sentences that may very well mean death behind prison walls. There are children, wives, husbands, parents and siblings who long to have their loved ones home again. Moreover this War continues to cost billions of tax dollars to support a policy that is at best suspect and losing the support of citizens it is designed to keep safe.

The public is no longer complacent about the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and cocaine. This disparity has exposed a highly discriminatory distinction that has led to egregious sentencing for some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

At the present time, the legal status of marijuana is being challenged state by state. The cruel irony is that every year there are 700,000 to 800,000 local, state and federal arrests for marijuana that most of the population sees as no more harmful than alcohol. This is evidenced by the fact that marijuana is now being legalized across the country state by state at a staggering rate.

If the covenant between those who govern and the citizens who are governed is to be maintained, the costly experiment of the War on Drugs needs to be seriously addressed.

This suggestion is modeled on a solution that resolved the legal status of offenders in an equally divisive war, The War in Viet Nam. Using the power of the president for systemic pardoning is nothing new. It’s been done frequently since our country’s first president - George Washington.

We urge the president to use the model of President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. After President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon on September 16, 1970 he initiated a Clemency Program for those who violated the Selective Act. Ford granted 1,731 pardons to civilians, those who evaded the draft and 11,872 to military personnel, those who went AWOL. President Jimmy Carter expanded the clemency healing many wounds and bringing thousands of young men back into the fold of citizenship.

Our criminal justice system needs a cleansing to restore faith in the integrity and justness of our law. Non Violent marijuana offenders who have received life without parole or de facto life sentences for marijuana only offenses could be granted a group commutation after a significant number of years served – be it ten years or some other designation. It could be commutation for those who had served 10 years and or reached the age of 60.

We are warehousing non-violent old men and women whose offense was selling a substance that is being reevaluated and legalized.

Nonviolent crack offenders could be addressed in the same manner. Commute crack sentences when time served equals the time of incarceration for same weight cocaine offenses.

Systemic clemency has been used frequently throughout the history of our country. This is a Presidential tool and responsibility that is usually used to restore justice when retribution has caused a rift in the social fabric. The war on drugs is our contemporary example of this excess.

Alexander Hamilton (Federalist #74) “Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little possible fettered or embarrassed. The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

Zimbabwe: 2,000 Plus Pardons

It is reported that "more than 2,000" inmates "mostly females and juveniles" are expected to be released from Zimbabwe prisons today. President Mugabe, under the Clemency Order No. 1 of 2014 has granted a remission of the remainder of imprisonments to female prisoners "regardless of the offence committed save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death." In addition, a remission of the remaining period of imprisonment has also been granted to "all juvenile prisoners under the age of 18 years serving terms of imprisonment, irrespective of the offences they committed." Remissions were also granted to all terminally ill prisoners "who were unlikely to survive their prison terms irrespective of the offences they committed upon certification by a prison medical officer or a Government medical officer." Finally, those aged 70 years and above will be freed "regardless of the offence committed save for those sentenced to death."

Dep Comm Machingauta said:
"We urge the nation to accept those released, give them a second chance. We don't want them to be stigmatised," 
Prisons in Zibabwe are said to be 12 percent over capacity. See story here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Conrad Black: On Prosecutions, Prisons and Reform

At National Review, Conrad Black notes President Obama's recent commutations of sentence are a "tiny tiny but significant gesture, as America’s long indulgence, spiked intermittently into passionate support, for draconian hypocrisy in its failed War on Drugs yields grudgingly to the forces of reason and decency."

Black explains that the recent reduction in disparity of sentences for crack (as opposed to powder cocaine) from 100 to one to 18 to one (which he still considers an "unsupportable discrimination") came about because "cocaine-using middle-class and university white people are powder customers, and the generally poorer African Americans tend to be crack users."

Black explains that "various states," with the "encouragement of a handful of more creative public-policy thinkers, such as Newt Gingrich" have released "significant numbers of nonviolent offenders because of budgetary restraints and the hideous expense of the custodial system." Writes Black:
Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to discern much sense of traditional aspiration for reform, of the kind that fired the minds and ambitions of great statesmen of the past ...They were all motivated by companion desires to preserve and strengthen the societies in which they lived, but to make them better and fairer. Little of this spirit remains in most countries, and practically none in the United States, where all politics is money: Members of the Congress represent the leading pecuniary interests in their states or districts and presidential candidates raise a billion dollars each so that mighty computer programs and advertising blitzes can fight each other for the heart and mind of an ever more disappointed, cynical, and under-served electorate. 
Black says, more specifically that "the problem" is American prosecutors:
They win 99.5 percent of their cases, 97 percent without a trial (as against much lower success rates in Canada and the U.K.). The plea-bargain system has been misshapen into the extortion or subornation of incriminating perjury in exchange for immunities, including from charges of perjury. And whatever liberties the prosecutors take are never punished.  
He offers as evidence , the conviction of seven-term U.S. senator Ted Stevens of Alaska - a conviction based on "what was found to be gross prosecutorial misconduct." Black adds that "no serious analysis can sustain the conviction of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney." Among other things, Black concludes:
What is missing is the genuine reformer, the politician prepared to advocate, vote for, and sell to his constituents the virtue of making America a fairer place. If this group does not assert itself in its real numbers, it will not be just the victims of the prosecutocracy who lose. The United States cannot be governed exclusively by police chiefs and less creditable self-seekers. 
See full editorial here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Times: Missing, and Hitting, on Pardons

Today's Times features an editorial which begins with the observation that "Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Lincoln, and Truman viewed the clemency process as a central mission of the office" - a thought well worth documenting in some manner.

But, the piece notes, "the concept of mercy went out of fashion by the 1980s, when the country embarked on a mandatory sentencing craze that barred judges from exercising leniency when it was clearly warranted and placed the justice system almost entirely in the hands of prosecutors." Readers of this blog are certainly familiar with our concerns re mandatory minimums, and our sense that the pardon power should be employed to address their unintended and most heinous consequences. On the other hand, we feel that to suggest that the general decline in federal executive clemency is the result of a policy change in the 1980s is a bit of an over-reach.

Presidential use of the pardon power clearly began to decline in the early 1900s. This is demonstrated in original data being gathered for the forthcoming book that the Editor is writing with former Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner George Lardner. The reasons for the decline in this period are numerous and complex. They relate to such things as the creation of alternative release mechanisms (probation and parole), the use of master warrants, changes in the rules regulating the clemency process, movement of the pardon process from the State Department to the Department of Justice and from the hands of the AG to the DAG, scandals (at the end of the Truman administration, Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, the Iran-Contra pardons, the Willie Horten affair, Marc Rich, FALN, etc.), etc. Presidents from Washington to Truman pardoned regularly, every month, of every year. The Eisenhower administration changed all of that.

But, beside that, we agree with the Times' summary:
The perpetual punishment model of justice has had far-reaching consequences. Politicians stayed as far away from clemency as they could, fearing that voters would view them as soft on crime. Meanwhile, at the Justice Department, the clemency process — which had been a cabinet-level responsibility — fell under the authority of prosecutors who seemed to view even reasonable lenience as a threat to the prosecutorial order. The time required to handle clemency applications went from months to years; the backlog grew; the stream of mercy that had once flowed began to dry up. The clemency system, in other words, is in a state of collapse.
And we agree:
What’s needed is wholesale reform of the department’s pardon office, which has proved itself ineffective and incompetent, partly because the current process relies on the department to evaluate its own work. One sound idea is to create a clemency review panel outside the Justice Department, perhaps as a part of the executive office. Mr. Obama could form an advisory board, or reconfigure the pardon office to include defense lawyers, sociologists and other experts who would bring a broader perspective to the issue. The goal would be to give the president unbiased information that would enable him to exercise fully this important aspect of executive power.
See the full editorial here.

SLATE: Mercy and The Right

In December of 2010, we summarized what we called the Conservative Case for the Pardon Power. Now comes a wonderful follow-up kind of article from SLATE, and David Weigel. It begins with this excerpt from a recent speech given by Rand Paul:
... As Christians, we believe in forgiveness ... I think the criminal justice system should have some element of forgiveness ... there are also people who make youthful mistakes who I believe deserve a second chance. In my state, you never vote again if you’re convicted of a felony. But a felony could be growing marijuana plants in college. Friend of mine’s brother did 30 years ago. He has an MBA. But he can’t vote, can’t own a gun, and he’s a house-painter with an MBA, because he has to check a box saying he’s a convicted felon.”
Weigel notes Conservatives are "ready to talk about lighter sentences for some criminals and for the restoration of felons’ rights." Indeed,  both parties "are raring for it" and "in a subtle kind of way, they’re racing to take credit for it, too." Weigel, with astuteness, observes:
This is a reversal of a trend that helped create the modern Republican Party. After bottoming out in the 1964 election, Republicans surged back in 1966 and won the presidency in 1968. They cracked the old Democratic coalition, in part because rising crime rates and visions of urban riots sent voters sprinting away from liberalism. “In recent years,” said Richard Nixon in a 1968 campaign ad, “crime in this country has grown nine times as fast as population. At the current rate, the crimes of violence in America will double by 1972.” As he talked, images of dead bodies, guns, and wild-eyed protesters played over a soundtrack of atonal horn blasts and drumbeats. For three more decades, Republicans could win tight elections by capitalizing on the fear of crime. Democrats met them where they could, to neutralize the issue, because to be called “soft on crime” was to be exiled with Michael Dukakis. 
Now, of course, the fiscal impart of mass incarceration and the mandatory minimum sentences which fuel it are considered well worth a second look. We agree with Weigel, "Here is a cause whose time should have come many, many years ago." See the full article here.

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