Time served: Sentencing policy must be driven by public safety

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE EDITORIAL: Corrections officials have argued that criminal justice and sentencing policies, and the funds that support them, should be driven by rational principles such as public safety, not emotions such as rage and revenge. That sound idea should dramatically change the sentencing laws that state officials and Congress enact.

Such policies have fueled a quadrupling in the U.S. prison population since the 1970s to more than 2 million people. Most of the increase occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, when states adopted mandatory-minimum sentences for drug offenses, three-strikes laws and other get-tough measures…

Marc Mauer, head of the Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., has an even better idea. He proposes capping federal prison sentences, with some exceptions, at 20 years. Congress and state lawmakers should consider it… (more)