McCain Says He Won't "Coddle Criminals"

Via Sentencing Law and Policy where law prof Doug Berman provides his own thoughts, Sen. John McCain has an op-ed today in the National Law Journal outlining his views of criminal justice and the role of judges.

Terrorists are not the only threat to public safety. Lax enforcement policies, judges who legislate from the bench and lack of support for law enforcement personnel all continue to force our innocent citizens behind the barred windows of their homes and allow criminals to roam free.

And now drugs are bringing waves of crime and organized gang activity to rural areas thought to be nearly immune from such problems. The federal government must both support state and local law enforcement and effectively enforce federal laws designed to root out violent crime, organized gangs and other interstate criminal activity.


... Senator Obama would appoint liberal activist judges and supply them with greater sentencing discretion. I will appoint judges who will strictly interpret our Constitution. Senator Obama's judges would coddle criminals. I will appoint judges who will hold criminals accountable.

McCain is clueless in labeling Obama as soft on crime. As I've written repeatedly during the past 18 months, Obama has not been progressive enough on crime issues. And Joe Biden (see here, here and here) never met a crime bill or a funding proposal for law enforcement he didn't like and adapt as his very own. (More here and here.)

Does McCain think it's just coincidence or a mistake that police unions around the country endorse Obama-Biden?

Which just goes to show how much worse McCain would be. McCain wants to keep living in the 90's and maintain that decade's failed tough-on-crime policies that cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and cost non-violent offenders years of their lives.

He can't understand that we need to be smart about crime, not just tough on crime. McCain won't only not end the disparity and unfairness of mandatory minimum sentences, he'll add more of them and appoint judges who will refuse to deviate from them when justice requires.

Obama/Biden are not be as progressive on crime issues as they should be. They certainly aren't "liberals" or "soft" on crime. But they are far more reasonable than McCain and at least are educated about the topic.

While not sufficient in my view, at least Obama and Biden will fight for the constitutional rights of the innocent and look at alternative means of punishment for non-violent offenders. McCain won't even do that. He's a lock 'em up, throw away the key kind of guy and makes no bones about it.

More examples of Obama's crime positions taken from his Senate website:

Senator Obama cosponsored the Combat Meth Act, which provides more money for fighting methamphetamine (meth), tightens controls on the sale of meth ingredients, and provides assistance to the children of meth abusers. The legislation would limit access to cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient used to make methamphetamine. This bill passed the Senate and became law in the 109th Congress.

...Senator Obama has supported greater funding to fight meth through the use of Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.

Senator Obama cosponsored Dru's Law which creates a nationwide sex offender database and requires greater monitoring of sex offenders upon their release from prison. The bill passed the Senate in July of 2005. This legislation was incorporated into a larger bill, the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, which Senator Obama supported and which has been signed into law.

He also cosponsored the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. This bill increases the penalties for sex crimes against children under the age of 12 and creates a national Internet site known as the National Sex Offender Public Registry. The bill would also provide grants to local law enforcement to assist in preventing and investigating sex crimes against minors.

Senator Obama is a cosponsor of the KIDS Act, which requires convicted sex offenders to provide their Internet identifiers, such as e-mail addresses and instant message addresses, for inclusion into the national sex offender registry.

Obama describing his record on crime to the Chicago Tribune in 2004 (10/8/04):

"I voted for, or co-sponsored myself, over 100 bills that strengthened criminal penalties for everything ranging from sex offenders to drug dealers to domestic violence abusers," he said. "It would be very hard to argue, if you look at the totality of my record, that I somehow have been soft on crime. ... Those who have tried to paint me recently as being too liberal are some of the colleagues I worked most closely with. They never held that view until election season."

If Obama and Biden are soft on crime, can you imagine the reactionary, repressive policies McCain would create? McCain, who even bailed on his signature issue, torture.

There's only one way to prevent a criminal justice travesty on November 4 and that's to vote against John McCain. Not just because he's a blowhard on crime but because he's clueless, ill-informed, out-of-step and a throwback to the failed policies of yesteryear.

< Details of Alleged Tenn. Assassination Plot | Detainee & Lawyer Refuse to Participate in Guantanamo Trial >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    The GOP (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by cal1942 on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 11:55:51 PM EST
    is truly desperate, reusing all the old stuff from the last 40 years trying to find something that works.

    For all these years they've used a group of "issues" and demonizing charges to disguise a plutocratic agenda and the public, for the most part it seems, has stopped buying.

    Check this out (none / 0) (#1)
    by MikeDitto on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 08:59:19 PM EST
    A bunch of call center workers walked off the job refusing to read this very "coddle the criminals" message. Someone please send them some flowers or cookies (or dollars since they aren't getting paid).

    Principles alive and well.... (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 08:22:51 AM EST
    what a great story...if you work in a telemarketing call center, odds are you're broke as a joke...this was a principled stand that was surely not easy to make for those workers.  I heartily applaud them.

    Convicted CRIMINAL v. Convicted Felon (none / 0) (#2)
    by Yes2Truth on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 09:39:37 PM EST
    There are many convicted felons who, in my opinion, should not be considered criminals. (people convicted/coerced into pleading guilty for violating victim-less crime laws) Wouldn't it be more fair and accurate to reserve defining who is labeled a convicted "criminal" to those who were found guilty of violating a law which resulted in harm to someone/someones other than (arguably) only themselves?

    Where is the line drawn at (none / 0) (#3)
    by nycstray on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 09:48:43 PM EST
    "non-violent"? Is it only victim-less?

    that explains (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 10:08:29 PM EST
    the bars on my windows! here i thought it was just to protect me from the crowd of angry, pitchfork & lit torch weilding villagers, on my front yard.

    just out of curiousity, who among mccain's big donors owns a private prison company? this would explain his desire to jail more citizens.

    this was exactly my thought (none / 0) (#9)
    by of1000Kings on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 11:27:24 PM EST
    the privatization of prisons is something that doesn't get talked about enough when the discussions about mandatory sentencing or 3 strike rules are engaged...

    it's pretty pitiful that whenever a candidate talks about policy we have to consider which special interest lobbyists are giving money to the candidate...


    "Criminals"... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 08:37:58 AM EST
    by far the most popular boogey-man used by our politicans to spread the fear.

    I like this bit....

    ...all continue to force our innocent citizens behind the barred windows of their homes and allow criminals to roam free.

    This innocent citizen is laying low in the crib hiding from an outta control police state.  Only having to worry about criminals would be like a holiday.

    Obama and crime (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 07:35:25 PM EST
    Obama would nominate liberal, relatively pro-defendant judges/supreme court judges compared to McCain.  You all know this.  Isn't this part of the reason why this web site endorses Obama?