Yes, that Pat Robertson. Check the video proof.
“We’re locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana and the next thing you know they’ve got ten years – they’ve got mandatory sentences and these judges, they throw up their hand and say ‘What can we do, it’s mandatory sentences.’ We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes, and that’s one of them. I mean, I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of just a few ounces of pot, and that kind of thing, I mean it’s costing us a fortune, and it’s ruining young people. The young people go into prisons, they go in as youths, and they come out as hardened criminals.”
I’ve actually been using the parental control on my cable to block the “700 club” so I don’t accidentally tune in to it (I do the same thing with a couple of those 24 hour “news” channels), but am I going to have to re-think this?
This is actually true conservative thinking. I thought that was dead.
Related: Radley Balko has a column at Reason discussing a new public policy website called Right on Crime, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation aimed at changing the way conservatives think about criminal justice.
“While the growth of incarceration took many dangerous offenders off the streets,” says an introduction to the website, “research suggested that it reached a point of diminishing returns, as recidivism rates increased and more than one million nonviolent offenders filled the nation’s prisons. In most states, prisons came to absorb more than 85 percent of the corrections budget, leaving limited resources for community supervision alternatives such as probation and parole, which cost less and could have better reduced recidivism among non-violent offenders.”
I’d really like to see this take hold. With Democratic politicians, for the most part, too afraid (and too beholden to special interests) to actually follow the wishes of their voters, it would be fantastic to have a strong conservative faction looking for policy that is fiscally responsible, results accountable, liberty based, and limits big government waste.
It could mean a powerful coalition of Democratic voters, principled conservatives, libertarians… and Teapot Partiers. Not bad.
– I completely agree with what Ilya Somin said:
Moreover, he cites several good reasons for this stance, including the high cost of prohibition, and the fact that imprisonment of small-time drug dealers and users is â€œruining young people.â€ I suspect that Robertson has begun to realize that the War on Drugs is bad for family values. […]
…the opposition of social conservatives is one of the biggest political obstacles to curtailing drug prohibition. Hopefully, more conservatives will come to the same realization as Robertson and, before him, the far more intellectually respectable William F. Buckley.
— David Boaz misses the point at Cato@Liberty.
But I do have this question for Republican members of Congress: Do you really want to be to the right of Pat Robertson on the issue of marijuana prohibition?
The actual point is clearly that marijuana prohibition has never been a right or left issue. Sure, it’s sometimes gotten more of a boost from one side or the other, but in its core, it defies right-left labels. This is why we see ordinary politicians on both sides overwhelmingly favoring prohibition, and why we can see smart people throughout the political spectrum (Walter Cronkite, Barney Franks, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, William F. Buckley, etc.) in favor of legalization.
(To be fair to David, he probably was using the “right of Pat Robertson” meme as a clever goad, rather than an analysis of the political position of marijuana policy.)