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The Big News of the Day...

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... in criminal sentencing was the Attorney General's speech in San Francisco.  In it, he outlined plans to instruct federal prosecutors ordinarily to refrain from writing indictments that specify an amount of drugs that would trigger a mandatory minimum.

I have been running around all day, and have done interviews with Politico, the New York Times, CBS, CNN and PBS. Let me tell you, that is a full day.  Tomorrow, I'll have the pleasure of appearing with CJLF's Mike Rushford on the Dave Iverson show on KQED radio.  I think we kick off at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.  Today's PBS clip is here.  Judy Woodruff is a good interviewer, inquisitive without being aggressive or partisan, and allowing the participants to complete a point.

I will make no attempt to summarize the arguments on their merits.  I will just say very briefly that the AG's action seems to take root in a jaundiced view of our criminal justice system, a system that, certainly in the view of its inmates, is a failure.  

My major point was that the inmates' view is an odd and a skewed test.  The view that ought to count is less what's happening with imprisonment and more what is happening with crime.  By that measure, the system is not only not a failure, it is a nearly unique success in social policy.  At a tiny fraction of the cost of entitlement programs, stern sentencing has helped drop the crime rate 50% in 20 years, thus contributing to thousands if not millions of crimes that were never committed, and thousands if not million of potential victims who were not abused, beaten up, molested, swindled and robbed.

May all our social policies be that "broken."

[Editor's update:  KQED audio is now available -- KS]

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