A troubling rise in violent crime, including a surge in homicides in major cities across the country, has the potential to upend the emerging bipartisan consensus in favor of policing and criminal justice reform.
This is one reason President Joe Biden is turning his attention to the issue of crime on Wednesday, though many of his proposals are expected to focus on guns. The bipartisan support for sentencing and policing reforms is fragile and potentially dependent on the past 20 years of relatively low crime.
“After George Floyd, there was a bipartisan moment where everyone said, ‘We need to fix this,’” said Randy Petersen, a senior researcher at Right on Crime, a criminal justice initiative by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “The defunding [the police] movement kind of derailed the bipartisanship of that.”
“How high does the crime rate need to go before Democrats stop their campaign to release violent criminals from prison?” Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, tweeted on Tuesday. He later more directly challenged some of the sentencing reform ideas that have attracted support from lawmakers in both parties in recent years.
“Crack penalties are harsher than powder cocaine penalties,” Cotton tweeted. “Let’s fix this by increasing the penalty for selling powder cocaine. Not by letting drug traffickers out of prison.” Read more…