Much has been made of the fact that blustering tycoon Donald Trump leads the field of Republican presidential candidates. There have been a number of reasons suggested for this. Among them is that he (supposedly) says what a large number of Republicans, and I daresay many others, really think: That Washington is just an insider's game, with a lot of backroom deals and mutual back-scratching among well-funded interest groups that care little or nothing for the public interest.
This got me to thinking about sentencing "reform," the euphemism pasted on proposed mass sentencing reduction. Such "reform" is all the rage in the press, academia (when not faking
"scholarly" papers), much of the legal profession, and Big Money folks from the Koch brothers to George Soros.
In other words, mass sentencing reduction is popular with the inside-the-Beltway interest group culture that Trump has had a field day torching . The question is whether it is popular with ordinary citizens.
I have never seen evidence that it is. For months, I have looked for a poll that would ask, "Which comes closer to your view of the problem with our criminal justice system -- that we have too many people in prison for too long, or that we don't do enough to keep criminals off the street?"
With all the money behind sentencing "reform," that question could have been polled long ago. Why hasn't it?
I strongly suspect the "reform" groups don't poll it because they know what the answer is. As do we all. Our citizens prefer to keep criminals off the street, a strategy that has helped produce huge public benefits for a generation.
Republicans who allow themselves to be bull-rushed into signing onto sentencing "reform" are being hoodwinked. It's not just that it's a bad idea on the merits, although that should be enough. It's that it has no political benefit. It is, to the contrary, exactly the sort of cozy, flush, special-interest, wine-and-cheese project that has a blowhard like Trump feeling his oats.