by Marc Levin
Texas Public Policy Foundation
June 24, 2014
The conservative reaction to increased crime in the 1960s and ’70s, while necessary to curb criminal behavior, went a bit too far and swept up too many nonviolent, low-risk offenders into long prison terms. New research and techniques have emerged on everything from drug courts to actuarial risk assessments to electronic monitoring to pharmacological interventions to treat heroin addiction. Some of this new research has revealed the ineffective and unfair nature of past crime-control policies, like mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders and a panoply of superfluous criminal laws. By learning from what is working in the states and taking steps to ensure the federal role in criminal justice does not intrude on the constitutional purview of state and local governments, Congress can focus federal resources on solving these problems, advancing public safety and the rule of law.

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