In almost every state, the voters elect their local prosecuting attorneys. For many years prosecutors were elected and re-elected by being “tough-on-crime,” and public opinion seemed to support “lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key” policies. Mainstream media kept reinforcing that stereotype, and both of the big political parties bought into it. We were very stuck.
But finally people are paying attention to the RESEARCH that PROVES those “tough-on-crime” laws and policies DO NOT WORK.
Also, voters want to replace those with fair and just reforms.
Besides being seriously biased by race and economic class, they are grossly unjust and they waste taxpayers’ money. Now the general public and politicians of BOTH political parties are wanting to move sharply away from “tough-on-crime” laws and policies. They want to reduce sentences and promote alternatives to the regular criminal justice system.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, www.aclu.org) has compiled some research and published it on page 17 of the Summer 2018 issue of its “Stand” magazine. I am reprinting it here because it is important for more people to know that VOTERS WANT PROFOUND CHANGES to make our criminal justice system more fair, and VOTERS WANT TO ELECT PROGRESSIVE PROSECUTORS instead of the “tough-on-crime” kind.
Here is the ACLU’s article:
Do voters want prosecutorial reform?
It’s reasonable to ask in the Trump era. The ACLU set out to find the answer in a first-of-its-kind poll late last year.
The national survey of voters reveals a major reason why “tough-on-crime” prosecutors are returned to office even though their actions are out of step with a majority of constituents. Many voters simply know too little about who their local prosecutor is or what he or she us up to. But when asked, voters of every persuasion — in red and blue states alike — strongly prefer prosecutors who are committed to reducing incarceration, tackling racial disparities, and being transparent: [I’ve added boldfacing to the original article to emphasize this important research finding.]
- Approximately nine out of 10 likely voters said it was important for prosecutors to prioritize alternatives to incarceration.
- Nine out of 10 were more likely to support a prosecutor candidate who would actively work to reduce racial bias in the criminal justice system.
- Nine out of 10 want prosecutors to reduce sentences in instances where people were treated unequally because of their race.
- Respondents also want prosecutors who commit to transparency, with almost nine in 10 favoring prosecutors who share data and policies with the public.
“This is not a left or right or Democratic or Republican issue,” says former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, one of several professional organizations that have arisen to support a growing cohort of justice-minded prosecutors. “We’re seeing alignment on both sides of the political spectrum around the need to get beyond the tough-on-crime philosophy.”