PLEDGE NOW
Packed Prisons And The Call For Sentencing Reform

The big new push to bring down America’s world-leading prison population. It’s got traction.

Inmates flash hand signals at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says he plans to implement all the reforms suggested by a commission in the wake of allegations that a culture of violence flourished in his jails. (AP)

Inmates flash hand signals at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says he plans to implement all the reforms suggested by a commission in the wake of allegations that a culture of violence flourished in his jails. (AP)

One category in which the United States leads the world is in its prison population.  Highest rate of incarceration in the world?  American.  Highest absolute prison population – numbers?  American.  For years now, it’s been too much too handle financially — those millions behind bars.  And, many say, morally – particularly as long “war on drugs” mandatory sentences devastated lives and whole communities.  Now, there’s a bi-partisan push on to reform sentencing laws and draw down incarceration rates. This hour On Point:  the push to bring down America’s world-leading prison population.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Brian Mann, Adirondack Bureau Chief for North Country Public Radio, creator of the Prison Time Media Project. (@BrianMannADK)

Mark Osler,  professor of law at the University of St. Thomas. Former Federal prosecutor. (@Oslerguy)

Kemba Smith, criminal justice reform advocate. Served six years in a 24.5 year prison sentence.  Author of “Poster Child.” (@KembaSmith)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Some prosecutors fighting effort to eliminate mandatory minimum prison sentences — “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s broad effort to eliminate mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and reduce sentences for defendants in most drug cases is facing resistance from some federal prosecutors and district attorneys nationwide . Opponents of the proposal argue that tough sentencing policies provide a critical tool to dismantle drug networks by getting cooperation from lower-level defendants and building cases that move up the criminal chain of command.”

Huffington Post: Obama’s Opening to Mercy — “There is one pure, unadulterated Judeo-Christian virtue in the Constitution, though: The mercy afforded through the pardon power. It is unique among the powers of the executive because neither of the other branches can exercise a check on it. Congress cannot limit the president’s abilities to grant clemency, and courts cannot review them. There is no doubt that the framers intended clemency to involve mercy — Alexander Hamilton described it exactly that way in Federalist 74.”

The Wall Street Journal: Obama to Commute More Drug Sentences — “The new Justice Department initiative suggests the president could end up granting clemency to a much larger group of offenders than he did in December. Mr. Cole said the department is looking for ‘nonviolent, low-level drug offenders who weren’t leaders of—nor had any significant ties to—large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels.’ He said first-time offenders and those without long rap sheets also would be considered.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 5, 2015
Landon Kimich, 2, sleeps as he receives a chemotherapy treatment for neuroblastoma at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center on Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP)

After the diagnosis of cancer, another blow – the often-crippling costs of treatment. We look at the soaring price of cancer drugs.

Aug 5, 2015
It can be hard to accept failure. (Flickr / Blacksheep of Omaha)

“Fail fast, fail often” goes the zeitgeist . But should we have such optimism for failure?

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 4, 2015
Jason Segel as author David Foster Wallace in the new film, "The End of the Tour." (Courtesy A24 Films)

Comedic actor Jason Segel gets serious and takes on author David Foster Wallace in the new film, “The End of the Tour. ” He’s with us.

 
Aug 4, 2015
In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, will unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. (AP)

Tough new carbon restrictions. What the president is proposing, Germany’s already doing. Will the American people buy in?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: July 31, 2015
Friday, Jul 31, 2015

A regular reminder that RTs are not endorsements, links have specific authorship and patience is a virtue.

More »
3 Comments
 
Q & A: Scott Walker On The Iran Deal, Huckabee Comments
Monday, Jul 27, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker explains his opposition to the Iran Deal, his record of statewide electoral victory and why he feels he’s set to win the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.

More »
Comment
 
Q & A: Carly Fiorina On Trump, Sexism, And Being Cut From The GOP Debate
Monday, Jul 27, 2015

Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of computer giant Hewlett-Packard, joined guest host John Harwood to talk Donald Trump, the upcoming Republican candidate debate and sexism in modern life.

More »
Comment