I don’t want much. I just want sentences to be tough, judges to be lenient where the circumstances require it – which shouldn’t be very often – and for serious crimes to get serious time.
I don’t believe in parole. Lock them up.
Last week, John Ashcroft, the tough-on-crime attorney general, gave federal prosecutors orders to all but eliminate plea bargaining with defendants and, almost without exception, prosecute the most serious charges they can prove.
Meanwhile, from Connecticut to California, legislatures and governors are, with a few exceptions, eagerly finding new ways to reduce, rethink or eliminate prison sentences for crimes within their jurisdictions.
The result is a somewhat contradictory national crime-fighting agenda: as the Ashcroft Justice Department demands the harshest prison terms and goes out of its way to track federal judges who do not give them, state lawmakers are openly advocating less time for the same crime and giving judges more discretion in choosing punishments. [New York Times]