The Nonviolent/Violent Dichotomy
Date:  04-05-2017

Victoria Law writes on why the term "violent crime" bears careful scrutiny if we are to end mass incarceration
From The New Inquiry:

More than 40 years after the War on Drugs was declared, our nation faces overcrowded prisons and skyrocketing costs. As state and federal budgets sag under this weight, politicians who once vowed to be “tough on crime” are now introducing legislation that ostensibly begins to undo their efforts. Though the new president has set himself firmly against Obama’s criminal justice reform (along with everything else Obama has implemented), lawmakers on the state level are continuing their efforts to cut prison populations.

On the federal level, there have been talks of a bipartisan approach to criminal justice reform. In the Senate, for example, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul teamed up with Democrats Patrick Leahy and Jeff Merkley to introduce the Justice Safety Valve Act, allowing federal judges to hand out sentences below the mandatory minimums. Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner teamed up with Democrat Bobby Scott to introduce the Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective (SAFE) Justice Act, which encourages probation for lower-level offenses. The act’s supporters run the gamut of the political spectrum, from the NAACP and the ACLU, to the Police Foundation and Right on Crime.

On the state level, governors and legislatures are embracing criminal justice reform and ways to send fewer people to prison for lengthy periods of time. California passed Proposition 57, allowing people with nonviolent felonies the chance for parole and the possibility to earn time off their sentences by participating in prison programming. State level reforms aren’t limited to blue states either. Oklahoma and Utah, which both have Republican governors, reclassified various drug and property felonies into misdemeanors. So did Alaska, whose governor is a Republican-turned-independent. Continue reading >>>