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Is Sanders promise to reduce incarcerations doable?

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Quoting Bernie Sanders from his many stump speeches and debates:

    "So here's a promise that I make to you: Number one, at the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country. And one of the reasons for that is that instead of having high rates of youth unemployment, we are going to have education and jobs, not jails and incarceration. I want kids to be in school. I want kids to have the education they need. I want kids to have jobs, not just hang out on street corners with the potential to get into trouble."

    Sounds great...those lines always get great applause. But is it realistic?

    Slate, February 11, 2016: Sanders Is Delusional if He Thinks He Can Keep His Promise on Mass Incarceration

    "What Sanders means by this is that under just four years of his magical leadership, the U.S. will bring down its jail and prison population by about 600,000 people. Where does that figure come from? Consider that the No. 2 spot on the list of countries with the most prisoners in the world right now is China, and it has about 1.66 million people behind bars. The U.S., by comparison, has about 2.3 million."

    Consider that the federal prison system has only about 10 percent of those incarcerated, and even reducing that population is proving difficult with our current Congress opposed to setting anyone free. I think it is a very noble goal on Sanders part, and no doubt it has appeal to a large segment of the population, but for anyone that looks at the math, it is difficult if not impossible. Quoting the Slate article:

    "If Sanders wants to release more than 500,000 people by 2020, he’s going to have to break them out personally. If he has a more efficient approach in mind, he needs to share it before he makes this ridiculous promise again."

    I suppose the same applies to many of his other plans. I don't agree with the word "ridiculous" but I do have concerns that his "fuzzy math" on a lot of his proposals will hurt his campaign if he is ultimately victorious over Hillary. And even if he is elected, without a compliant Congress the goal is unattainable. President Obama found that out with plan to close Gitmo. Can Sanders do any better?

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    What difference does one year, two years, three years or three years and six months make on the attitude of a criminal. Nothing absolutely nothing. Make all sentences either one year, five years or life. Or some reasonable facsimile. Non violent crimes put a monitoring gps device on the criminal that buzzes if the criminal is not where he is supposed to be. An uncomfortable buzzer. There is no reason other than supporting the criminal justice enterprise that we have so many people in jail.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    This is a promise he knows he can't make happen, that is unless he convinces the fifty states to adopt whatever prison reform he is (and that's a big IF) able to get passed through Congress.

    I'm all about pressuring the states to reduce their prison populations and some states are beginning to do so, but the prison industry is big business in many states and their lobby will undoubtedly fight tooth and nail against any state legislation that would dramatically reduce prison populations.

    The only thing Bernie and the Federal Government would be able to do is pressure the states to repeal their "three strikes laws" and threaten to withhold Federal highway or other funds if they refuse to go along, but he would need an overwhelming majority in Congress (which no President on either side of the aisle is going to have anytime soon) to actually add meat to that threat.

    The Sentencing Project has a very interesting interactive map that breaks down the prison population by state. The results are striking. Texas, the second most populous state has 226,829 people in state prisons or jails; Illinois, the fifth most populous state has 68,719.

    The state of Texas has nearly thirty thousand more state prisoners than all of the Federal prisoners in America combined.

    What that shows me is this is far more of an issue that the states have to deal with. Some states have; other states obviously haven't.

  • Other Party
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    Why are you believing anything this facist socialist is saying. He os just spouting anything that will get him elected. We cannot support or afford any of his dumb policies. If our society were willing to work hard to earn their own way. Bernie wouldnt even be an option.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Calling a person a "fascist" and a "socialist" in the same sentence is a reflection on your intelligence...or lack of it. I need not say more.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Yes all stupid comments! Of course we don't want to copy Europe; an group of American/politicians/lawyers visited jails in Europe and were amazed; luxury rooms, library's, TV in their rooms and free "education" as well shops to get shop skills. On top of that continuously phycological help and training, in order to prepare them getting back into the society. Here nothing is done other than lock them up and often they are getting out worse than they got in. If you look at the statistics ( Schmidt can dig those up) for Sweden etc. then you will see that for repeat offenders the numbers are way lower than here. So the cost saved related to the number of offenders can then be used for educating them while incarcerated. But yeah, here they will never copy anything from other countries, because this remains an arrogant "island" and rather invent everything by themselves; look at the "healthcare" and "gun" experiments.