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Right on Crime | November 12, 2015
As the nation gears up for the holiday season and 2016 presidential campaign, Right on Crime Signatory David Keene encourages policy makers and advocates to seek real, rather than political, solutions to our nation’s criminal justice conundrum.
Originally appearing in the Washington Times, Keene’s piece, “When ‘hang ‘em’ all meets ‘free ‘em all,’” debunks the criminal justice reform myth that pot smokers are the reason for overcrowded prisons this season.
According to Keene, Hillary Clinton’s claim that our prisons and jails are full of non-violent marijuana users is simply not true:
“Only a little more than 15 percent of those in our state prisons today are there for drug offenses, and most of those serving time for drug offenses in both the state and federal prisons are not there for smoking a joint, but for dealing in major drugs.
“It is true that incarcerating drug users for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use makes little sense, but to leap to the conclusion that minor drug crimes are the reason this country has so many of its citizens behind bars is nonsensical.”
There are other explanations for why America’s prisons are overcrowded despite decreases in crime rates. Keene proposes “mandatory-minimum, one-size-fits-all sentencing, three strikes laws and the elimination of parole…are the real problem.” He also mentions the ineffective practice of locking up the mentally ill who would be better served in treatment programs as a contributing factor.
If America wants to see real change, reformers, policy makers, and voters should “look seriously at the problem and at reforms that will actually work, rather than simply make them feel good.”
Policy makers cannot simply attribute the system breakdown to ideologically extreme myths that offer solutions undermining a sense of justice altogether.
To read Keene’s full piece on ideological extremism and criminal justice reform, click here.