Criminal Justice Rises on Presidential Campaign Agenda


Tough-on-crime rhetoric is out of fashion, but the Paris terrorist attacks and crime spikes in some U.S. cities have prompted presidential candidates too scramble to differentiate themselves on issues of law and order, reports the Associated Press. “You don’t have everyone saying they’re tough on crime,” said Inimai Chettiar of the Brennan Center for Justice. “Instead, you have people offering different policy solutions.” Criminal justice has bubbled up on the campaign agency, particularly among Democrats. Among Republicans, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been out front in seeking to “break the cycle of incarceration for non-violent ex-offenders.”

Republican Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and a former federal prosecutor, has preached treatment rather than prison for drug addicts. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz criticizes harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. But last month he voted against legislation that would make nonviolent drug offenders eligible for shorter prison sentences, saying he was concerned it could also benefit violent felons. And while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has endorsed a review of the criminal code and decried “selective enforcement” of the law, he has written that drug laws had helped restore law and order to America’s cities and that shorter drug-crime sentences should be approached with caution.

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