Afer 40 Years, GOP Softens ‘Tough-on-Crime’ Positions


Conservatives appear to be ready to talk about lighter sentences for some criminals and for the restoration of felons' rights, reports Slate. Sen. Rand Paul has been talking about the need for “forgiveness” in the criminal justice system. And the Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved the Smarter Sentencing Act, co-sponsored by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. If approved, it would slash the 30-year-old mandatory minimums for drug crimes.

Companion legislation is waiting in the House. The most partisan Congress in anybody's memory may actually come together to go easier on nonviolent drug offenders. Both parties seem ready for it–and are racing to take credit. Slate says this is more than a trend: it 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, based in part on a “tough-on-crime” agenda.

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