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January 2010
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Maybe we should just lock everybody up for life

Drug sentences excessive, expert says.

University of Kentucky professor Robert Lawson has issued a report on Kentucky’s criminal justice system.

Kentucky’s 35-year drug war has led to unfair, “brutally harsh sentences,” overcrowding the state’s prison system with non-violent offenders, a study says.

That has helped push the state budget to the “outer edge of fiscal distress,” said Robert Lawson, author of the 60-page study.

The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reported Lawson’s study is seen as a step toward revising drug punishments, which he claims have “failed miserably” by not distinguishing between minor offenders and major drug dealers.

This is potentially very good stuff. I’m anxious to read the report, and have contacted Lawson and asked if I could see it. If anyone else knows where I can get it online, please let me know.

And, of course, this is smart stuff, not only fiscally for the state, but in terms of proper focus of criminal justice system for it to be effective.

Naturally, the UPI report managed to find the knuckle-dragger who would give the most ridiculous response:

Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson disputed Lawson’s findings.

“You have to understand where Lawson is coming from,” Larson said. “He thinks government shouldn’t have as its primary function the safety of the public, and I do.”

This is both stupid and offensive. Offensive in that it’s like saying “My opponent doesn’t mind if terrorists blow up children in a day-care center, while I do.” Stupid because it isn’t about disputing findings, but rather about a knee-jerk response to any suggestion that any amount of sentencing might be excessive.

So I guess if someone suggests that we just lock everybody up for life if they commit any crime at all, then we have no choice but to do so, since apparently reducing sentences for any reason means that you don’t care about the safety of the public.

The truth, of course, is that bad sentencing policy doesn’t help public safety in any way, and is extremely likely to endanger it, as criminal justice resources are used inefficiently or without proper focus.

More at the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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51 comments to Maybe we should just lock everybody up for life

  • DdC

    The buzzword “marijuana” has more derogatory connotations than having consensual sex with an employee. But MPP has always been incrementalists making a living not removing Nixon’s lie. They continue the Ganjawar. Again if someone is being harassed or threatened there are laws on the books. Excusing their cowardice on some pretense they all cash their paychecks but really really want to legalize pot? Give me a break. They’re politicians with a Ganja leaf. They continue this 40 year terror campaign treading water, caging otherwise productive citizens and for what? A quasi legal initiatives in some places when zealot sheriffs are kept calm? But not binding Federally or even locally if city counsels wish to tweak it? The Supremest ruled today for the same corporations selling the Ganjawar. To keep competition out. Thats it. So once again the PC crowd and Cowards rule?

    Al Capone and Watergate were red herrings to divert the countries attention from the Fascist acts of eliminating competition. Booze/Ethanol or Ganja//Hemp. While Neocons and Neokrats continue to bicker over nonsense. Farmers still can’t grow. Drugs and Ganja are Gateways to prison profits and cop-shops bloated budgets.