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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
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Turning a corner on incarceration?
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Political Views
Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Aug. 12, 2013 5:06 p.m.



Lots of news to mull over on the crime and incarceration front:

- I’ll have lots more to say about Radley Balco’s “The Rise of the Warrior Cop,” which I just finished. It’s a thorough account of a disturbing trend that happened while we should have been paying closer attention: The militarization of the police, the destruction of the centuries-old home-is-your-castle doctrine, the aggressive mindset of modern police. I just finished interviewing Elizabeth Warren for a column, and recommended she add it to her summer reading.

- Nick Kristof told a story in his Sunday column that illustrates much wrong with the criminal justice system today.  It involves an innocent man, a senseless mandatory minimum sentence, and another over-aggressive federal prosecutor enforcing a measure that shouldn’t be a federal crime in the first place.

- On the positive side, a federal judge has ruled New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies violate the constitutional rights of minorities. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg vows to appeal the ruling.

- Best of all, AG Eric Holder today outlined a shift in tone and policies against the strategy of mass incarceration that has held sway for the last 30 years:

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason,” he told the American Bar Association.  “Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable.  It imposes a significant economic burden — totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone — and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”

The war on drugs/war on crime/mass incarceration age began with Nixon, and it will take a long long time to replace policies and practices that are inhumane and counter-productive. But I’m hopeful today that maybe we’re starting to turn the corner toward better approaches to drugs, crime, enforcement and punishment.

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