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.
I have also consistently filed legislation to eliminate mandatory minimums for drug dealing offenses. In the current session, I pinned my hopes for progress on this issue on the Criminal Justice Commission, but that Commission, while useful, has not so far turned out to be a vehicle for sentencing reform. Hopefully we can accomplish more in the 2015-6 session.
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