It would be pretty wild is Washington's "can't we all get along" moment turned out to be a cease fire in the war on drugs. Meet the Smart Sentencing Act, which would reduce mandatory minimums for certain dug offenses. Some conservatives are on board:
Granting federal judges more discretion in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses is the right thing to do,” he explained. “This legislation is an important step in updating sentencing policies that are not working, that are costing taxpayers too much, and that do nothing to make our families and communities safer.”
Labrador noted that nearly half of the inmates in the country’s federal prisons are there for drug offenses. “Many of them do not need overly harsh penalties,” he said. “And yet judges are forced to impose these penalties, even if they don’t want to.”
In recent years, that basic sentiment has been expressed by a growing number of conservatives, who decry the financial burden that mass incarceration places on taxpayers. Some have taken a broader stand against the laws. In September, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that featured several Republican drug reformers, Paul surprised some observers by comparing the country’s strict drug policies to the racist laws of the Jim Crow era.
"The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white," he noted, "but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African-American or Latino."
Ironic coming from a senator who just in 2010 seemed unsure about actual Jim Crow laws, but, whatever. Is the drug war collapsing from the weight of its own contradictions, much as 1960s-styled welfare programs did a generation ago? While I've been reading a lot about growing libertarianism (mainly among young white male "bros'). this could be the one issues where social liberals and fiscal conservatives could actually find common ground.
And there's one other problem with so many people in prison -- we can't afford their health care, either.
Have a great weekend!