A pending criminal justice bill offers Congress a rare opportunity for bipartisanship instead of the usual toxic hyperpartisanship. Importantly, passage would acknowledge that our tough-on-crime policies of the past generated unanticipated and unfortunate consequences.
The severity of a sentence is not the primary deterrent. Certainty of apprehension and punishment are more effective. In our zeal we also neglected incentives for good behavior and rehabilitation. Wiser, not harsher, policies can reduce recidivism.
This bill draws clearer distinctions between violent and non-violent crimes. It treats drug crimes more consistently. Very importantly, significant incentives are offered for inmates to seek educational and vocational opportunities. The bill impacts only federal offenses, but similar efforts are underway in some states.
This crime bill provides a much-needed opportunity for productive bipartisanship. Democrats accuse Republicans of focusing on harsh penalties at the expense of humane treatment. Republicans charge Democrats with focusing on soft treatment instead of crime control. This bill, however, presents the possibility of combining more humane treatment with actually reducing recidivism. This rare opportunity should not be squandered.
I'm Bob Evans, and that is my perspective.