Congress should listen to Alex Kozinski and ignore federal prosecutors.
...Judge Alex Kozinski, whom Ronald Reagan appointed to the U.S. Court Appeals for the 9th Circuit in 1985, a few years into the imprisonment binge that gave us the world's highest incarceration rate, reflects on that dubious distinction in a recent Georgetown Law Journal article. "We are committed to a system of harsh sentencing because we believe that long sentences deter crime and, in any event, incapacitate criminals from victimizing the general population while they are in prison," Kozinski writes. "And, indeed, the United States is enjoying an all-time low in violent crime rates, which would seem to support this intuition. But crime rates have been dropping steadily since the 1990s, and not merely in the United States but throughout the industrialized world. Our intuition about harsh sentences deterring crime may thus be misguided. We may be spending scarce taxpayer dollars maintaining the largest prison population in the industrialized world, shattering countless lives and families, for no good reason."