Sentencing Reform Politics Are Mixed


California, the state with the most stringent “three-strikes and you’re out” laws for incarcerating repeat criminals, doesn’t seem likely to pull back soon, reports the Associated Press. “California is going no place in terms of changing our laws,” said Barry Krisberg of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. “The politics have always been driven by liberals afraid of being viewed as soft on crime.”

Despite popular support for tough-sentencing laws from police officers and district attorneys, not all favor harsh punishments. In Ohio last month, county prosecutors urged changes to the state’s tough-on-crime laws enacted over the past two decades. The proposals included eliminating mandatory prison terms for drug trafficking, except in the most serious cases, and reducing some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors – such as illegally using food stamps and the unauthorized use of cable TV. The reasons? Money, overcrowding, and politics: The proposals were a counter offer to the governor’s plan to grant good-behavior credits to some inmates, expected to save Ohio more than $11 million by removing more than 2,600 prisoners. Many prosecutors favor having the inmates stay put.

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