Wednesday, October 14, 2015

6 Misconceptions Underlying Opposition to Sentencing Reform

"With crime rising in America and police increasingly under siege," writes Hudson Institute senior fellow Jeffrey Anderson at The Weekly Standard, "many Senate Republicans have decided it's a good time to liberalize federal sentencing policies." Anderson disagrees. He approvingly quotes Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who complains that bipartisan legislation backed by the chairmen of the Senate and House judiciary committees would "cut prison sentences for drug traffickers and even other violent criminals, including those currently in federal prisons." Sessions, a former U.S. attorney, deems that plainly reckless at a time when "drug use and overdoses are occurring and dramatically increasing," when "violent crime and murders have increased across the country at almost alarming rates in some areas," and when "law enforcement officers across our country have been shot at, killed without provocation, too often simply because they wear a badge." Anderson, still quoting Sessions, closes with the late criminologist James Q. Wilson's observation that "a high risk of punishment reduces crime." Anderson adds that "Republicans used to understand that."
Anderson, with Sessions' help, manages to pack at least half a dozen serious misconceptions into a 375-word post. Let's consider them one at a time.


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