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.