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February 2008
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People in Congress actually paying attention?

This article in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle was a bit of a surprise, simply because, even when our Congress people end up doing something positive regarding the drug war, it’s usually not with much… intelligence.

WASHINGTON — The tough-on-crime crackdown of the 1980s and 1990s is getting a second look in Congress.
Some lawmakers, including Houston Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, are questioning whether the soaring incarceration rates brought about by changes in federal sentencing laws have actually deterred crimes.
Jackson Lee and other lawmakers argue that the sentencing-law changes enacted during the crack cocaine epidemic of the Reagan years have become a financial burden to taxpayers and a societal cost in lives lost behind bars. […]
“Focusing more money on incarceration cannot possibly reduce the crime rate. What we have to do is invest money where it makes some sense,” Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who heads the Judiciary crime subcommittee, said during a recent hearing.
Scott noted that the U.S. incarceration rate of 750 adults per 100,000 population is the world’s highest. The average rate globally is 166 per 100,000 persons.

Of course, the article was not without some gaffs. The author completely misstates the 100-1 sentencing disparity (it’s not 100 times the length of sentence), and Jackson Lee’s statement about “both drugs” was out of place.
But still — some real information and politicians trying to take action. Hmm..

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