Over the past decade or so, America has undertaken a radical experiment with criminal justice reform. The consequences have been devastating.
The number of people arrested in America each year has fallen sharply over the past two decades. Public prosecutors now prosecute significantly fewer cases. Those that are convicted can generally expect shorter sentences. The combined effect of all this is that America’s prison population is now 25 percent lower than it was in 2011.
Two and a half years ago, pre-COVID and before surging crime and fentanyl overdoses gripped San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s left-wing lineage seemed a perfect fit for the liberal bastion by the bay.
Likewise, California Rep. Karen Bass was a barometer of Los Angeles’ transformation into a sprawling progressive metropolis. A former Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman, Bass was a top contender to become Joe Biden’s running mate in 2020 and was considered a likely contender for a statewide office.
Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) said earlier this week that if he is elected governor, he vowed to legalize recreational marijuana and expunge criminals with marijuana convictions.
The announcement came as part of the unveiling of Crist’s “Justice for All” criminal justice reform plan, which also included some gun control policies. Crist said the plan is for the communities who have felt left behind by the government.
Gov. Bill Lee has promised criminal justice reform in Tennessee, and several of his proposed bills that are set to move forward in coming weeks could have a significant effect on those in the state’s prison system.
“I’ve been thinking about it for 20 years,” Lee said recently during a roundtable he held on the subject last week. “Now, we’re in spot in Tennessee to really make substantive change.”
Many of the changes proposed in the bills and in Lee’s amended budget aim to reduce the prison population while focusing on re-entry for nonviolent offenders.