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Senator: Prison populations should grow, not shrink

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Unread 05.22.16, 09:18 PM
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Senator: Prison populations should grow, not shrink

05.22.16 09:01 PM

One U.S. senator is criticizing bipartisan efforts to enact justice reforms aimed at curtailing the U.S.’s largest in the world prison population. Instead, the lawmaker argues, the nation should be looking for ways to put more people in jail.

Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said bipartisan legislation to reduce the nation’s prison population is “dead in the year’s Senate.”

Cotton argued that passage of the bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent offenses would drastically drive up U.S. crime rates in the years ahead.

Recent Justice Department statistics place the U.S.’s inmate population at 2.3 million serving time in federal, state and local facilities.

But according to Cotton, the more shocking number for Americans ought to be the number of crimes that go unpunished.

“The claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed,” Cotton said.

Cotton added:”Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

Cotton, an Army veteran, said he’s seen similar attempts to place leniency over security backfire overseas.

“I saw this in Baghdad. We’ve seen it again in Afghanistan,” the lawmaker said. “Security has to come first, whether you’re in a war zone or whether you’re in the United States of America.”

Cotton said reversal of mandatory minimum laws only sounds like a good idea to people who don’t remember soaring crime rates in the 1980s.

Over the past 30 years, the number of inmates in America’s prisons has increased by 500 percent, due in large part to federal sentencing requirements put in place as a result of the never-ending War on Drugs.

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