A few notes on the Vice-President candidates and crime:
The Pewsitter website has a set of quotes from Gov. Sarah Palin, including this one from her 2006 campaign site:
"I support adequate funding for a strong public safety presence in Alaska. Feeling safe in our communities is something we cannot accept any compromise on. This includes policing in all its forms, the court system, prosecutors and corrections. If the legislature passed a death penalty law, I would sign it. We have a right to know that someone who rapes and murders a child or kills an innocent person in a drive by shooting will never be able to do that again."
The site quoted here is gone, replaced with an auto-refer to the McCain/Palin site.
Sen. Joseph Biden has a record that is decidedly mixed. He had a leading role in the enactment of what is arguably the most notorious sentencing law in modern American history, the law that makes possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine a more serious offense than possession of 499 grams of powder. To his credit, Biden has been candid about his own role in this misstep, explaining it in the Congressional Record, S8614 and S8615. Prior post here.
Sen. Biden also had a leading role in the enactment of the federal death penalty law. The law restored the death penalty for a wide variety of offenses, but it is needlessly complex and poorly written. It is ambiguous on the crucial question of what happens when the jury cannot agree, and the Supreme Court found that it requires a life sentence if even one juror holds out. (In California we have the sensible rule -- a hung jury on penalty is a hung jury, and the penalty phase can be retried). This rule has given life sentences to numerous murderers and terrorists, including conspirators in the embassy bombing and 9/11 plots. Biden has made no effort to fix this screw-up.
On habeas reform, Biden supported much of AEDPA, but he led the fight against the single most important reform -- the deference standard of 28 USC 2254(d).