At this stage in our history, we are overusing incarceration as a tool for protecting the public. We tend to focus on the terrible cases where we fail to lock up very dangerous people who go on to commit horrendous crimes. But of equal concern are the thousands of instances in which we lock up salvageable people for excessive terms — wasting taxpayer money and crushing potential contributors to our society. The challenge is to do a better job locking up the most dangerous people while at the same time reducing the overuse of incarceration in other instances.
My principle effort in the last session was to prevent the “three-strikes” bill that we were moving from sweeping in too many lesser offenders. See this thread for more on the three-strikes effort.
In the coming session, we will be developing or cosponsoring measures designed to reduce the use of incarceration and collateral sanctions in anti-drug enforcement. We will be posting more on this shortly, but for background on my work on drug issues, please see the links below.