Obama v. McCain on Crime

This is excellent news for the future of crime policy if it's true:

“The political climate has shifted,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization for criminal justice reform. “Democrats and Republicans both embrace a more evidence-based approach to public safety that looks at programs and policies that work.”

It's not so true of John McCain.

In a speech before the National Sheriffs’ Association this year, Mr. McCain ... called for tougher punishment for violent offenders and appeared to disagree with Mr. Obama’s contention that the prison population is too high. ... Mr. McCain also favors tougher sentences for illegal immigrants who commit crimes and more federal money to help local agencies detain them.

The Department of Corrections budget doesn't seem to be one of those McCain wants to cut. [more ...]

In contrast:

Mr. Obama has emphasized civil liberties, sensitivity to racial inequality and tough penalties for the most violent felons. He was a state lawmaker when the Illinois police and prosecutors were under siege. In 2003, doubt was cast on the convictions of several Illinois death-row inmates leading to a death-penalty moratorium that is still in effect. ...

As a state lawmaker, Mr. Obama supported changes to the death penalty, including a bill that let judges reject a death sentence for someone convicted on the sole basis of an informant’s testimony. He also opposed a measure that would have applied the death penalty for gang-related murders because he feared that the law would be applied unevenly. ...

Among the most hotly contested measures was one that required police officers to electronically record homicide interrogations, a requirement intended to reduce the number of forced or false confessions. Illinois was the first state to pass legislation requiring such a widescale electronic recording, and it was initially resisted by the police and prosecutors.

Mr. Obama shuttled between both sides at the Statehouse in Springfield, eventually writing several compromises into the bill that helped gain its passage. They included limiting the mandatory recordings to interviews conducted at police stations, and providing money for smaller police and sheriff’s departments to buy recording equipment.

Obama voted "present" on a bill to increase penalties for dealing certain drugs and on a bill to require the adult prosecution of minors accused of firing a gun near a school.

Since being elected to the United States Senate in 2004, Mr. Obama has helped sponsor legislation intended to reduce the disparity in prison sentences for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine because of his concern that existing laws unfairly discriminate against ethnic minorities.

He has also said he would instruct the Justice Department — particularly the Civil Rights Division — to change mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, create loan-forgiveness programs for law students who become public defenders, and increase the number of police officers nationally.

Obama isn't perfect on crime issues, but he's light years ahead of McCain.

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    Mindless and Cruel System (none / 0) (#1)
    by koshembos on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 05:10:11 AM EST
    Unless the statement of the executive director of the Sentencing Project is code with meaning just for the knowledgeable the statement is meaningless.

    The criminal system suffers from many severe problems. The punishment for drug offenses is contradictory to the wide use of drug in society. Many drug user and seller of insignificant amounts of drug end up in jail without any benefit to society but with high cost of money.

    Many crimes for which people go to jail should not carrying jail at all. There are plenty of alternative punishments that will reduce jail population and cost considerably less.

    As a society we fail miserably when we have two million people in jail. That's anti-democratic, anti-human, anti-social and extremely expensive.

    To a Rethug, 'crime' = 'minorities' (none / 0) (#2)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:10:35 AM EST
    All this talk about 'change'. Fine. Then let's see how much 'change' he's willing to push for...such as changing the drug laws that have benefited the Republican base so mightily, courtesy of minorities being targeted (out of all proportion to their actual numbers in society, as demonstrated by the prison population demographics) for political emasculation thanks to felony drug law offenses stripping them of voting rights (among others).

    Real handy to have millions of people (whose sheer numbers would overwhelm any voting machine chicanery) who would naturally belong to your opposing party to be removed from the democratic process by such means, wouldn't you say? Talk about 'nipping it in the bud' (no pun intended). Just think if all those disenfranchised voters had been able to vote in FL in 2000; might not have had the nightmare we've lived with for the past 8 years, hmmmmm?

    'Change'? By all means, let's have some change that restores voting rights...and ends the particularly racist means by which they were taken.

    McCain v/s Obama (none / 0) (#3)
    by sammy on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:13:59 AM EST
    Some more info on McCain v/s Obama - http://minekey.com/election08

    Voting "present"... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:34:03 AM EST
    on a bill to increase penalties for selling drugs is as bad as voting "yes"...complicit is complicit.

    Obama is too smart to be clueless as to how harmful the drug war is to American families and the future of America...he is and will be more than willing to do the tyranny hustle.

    But this ain't news, we've all known since before the primaries that substantial criminal justice reform and greater liberty for all Americans wasn't on any presidential candidates agenda, gotta go third party if it is something you care about...and we all should care, recreational drug users and straight-edge folks alike.

    This seem encouraging to me... (none / 0) (#6)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:43:03 AM EST
    Gov. Bill Ritter used a joint meeting with the 27-member Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice on Thursday to announce his plan to save $380 million in skyrocketing prison costs over the next five years.

    His proposed 2009-10 crime prevention and recidivism package, which carries a one-year price tag of $10.6 million, is part of his fiscal year 2009-10 budget proposal. It will be submitted this weekend to the legislature's Joint Budget Committee.

    Done right, the governor said, Colorado could eliminate the planned 2,061-bed expansion of the Trinidad Correctional Facility. Its projected cost, $336 million, is included in the governor's projected savings.

    The governor's plan would emphasize prevention services for youth, non-prison programs for non-violent offenders, substance-abuse treatment and offender education...


    Saving the taxpayer $ by focusing on prevention and education.  It is a start in the right direction.  I hope the JBC sees the value.

    crime does pay! (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:06:39 AM EST
    if you happen to be part of the "prison industrial complex". building, staffing and operating the nation's prisons is big bidness, with billions spent annually. i'm going to go out on a limb, and guess that those making the most money out of this, also tend to be republicans.

    it's in their best financial interests to ensure a "tough on crime" approach, from our politicians. of course, i've yet to hear one say they were going to be "easy on crime", but that's beside the point.

    as with so many issues, follow the money.

    it turns out that private prisons are actually (none / 0) (#9)
    by of1000Kings on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:51:43 PM EST
    more expensive than if the government ran the prisons...

    imagine that, a private company charging the tax payers more for a service than even the government does...

    the spin:  the extra cost is in creating jobs..and the mantra that privatized prisons will be run more efficiently has been thrown aside...

    so let's just have more people in prisons, that's the ticket...more prisoners = more jobs...

    but there is so much money now in privatized prison lobbying that nothing will be done...

    just another defunct part of America...


    If only (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 11:53:54 AM EST
    this is how our gvt actually worked...
    "Democrats and Republicans both embrace a more evidence-based approach to [governance] that looks at programs and policies that work."