Is it that we've locked up to many criminals, or that we have too much crime?
Congressional backers of slashing mandatory minimum sentences plainly believe the former. Their main slogan is "incarceration nation," and they claim there's a "bi-partisan consensus" to cut the prison population.
One thing I learned in my days as a litigator is to listen for what you're not hearing. What I never seem to hear, amidst all these claims of consensus, is any polling results among ordinary people. This makes a suspicious man like me wonder whether backers of so-called "reform" know enough to prefer not to take a poll; with all the George Soros money they've got, they could certainly commission one if they wanted.
I just stumbled across a poll, although it's a year old and asks a slightly different question. It's from Rasmussen, and I'll quote the (very short) story in full (emphasis added):
Americans feel even more strongly that the biggest problem with the criminal justice system is that too many criminals are set free. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 68% of U.S. adults believe that the bigger problem with law enforcement and the legal system is that too many criminals are released, not that too many innocent people are arrested. Eighteen percent (18%) hold the opposite view and think the bigger problem is that too many innocent people are arrested. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
What backers of the Smarter Sentencing Act mean when they say there's a "consensus" in favor of the bill is now clear: There's a consensus among cozy interest groups and academic leftists. Talk to the man on the street, and it's a different story.