Friday, October 31, 2008

McCain and Obama on Crime

Not that you need any more information this close to the election, but here is a summary of the major positions on crime between the two candidates. As the article notes, crime is really one issue that has not played much of a role this cycle.

Records of Obama and McCain as Lawmakers Reflect Differences on Crime

As an Illinois legislator for seven years, Senator Barack Obama sponsored more than 100 bills on crime, corrections and the death penalty, making criminal justice one of his top priorities as a state lawmaker.

In his nearly three decades in Washington, Senator John McCain has had a reputation for taking strong law-and-order stances.

But compared with many past presidential elections, Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have paid little attention to issues of criminal justice as they compete for the White House.

Still, the two candidates’ positions on criminal justice have been defined over their years in public life and provide some insight into how they might govern as president.

In a speech before the National Sheriffs’ Association this year, Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, called for tougher punishment for violent offenders and appeared to disagree with Mr. Obama’s contention that the prison population is too high.

“We still hear some academics and politicians speaking as if a rising rate of incarceration and a reduction in crime were unrelated facts,” Mr. McCain said. “But, of course, when the most violent and persistent criminals are in prison, crime rates will go down.”
Which is nonsense, but, of course, I'll leave it for after the election to explain why "some academics" argue that there is no correlation between the two.
In 2003, doubt was cast on the convictions of several Illinois death-row inmates leading to a death-penalty moratorium that is still in effect.

Some critics say Mr. Obama’s role in the death-penalty moratorium has been exaggerated. Christine Radogno, a Republican state senator, said that Mr. Obama took credit for work accomplished by Gov. George Ryan, a Republican who imposed the moratorium, pardoned a number of death-row inmates, and established a commission to study capital punishment.

“To claim that Barack was the impetus for those reforms is an overstatement,” Ms. Radogno said.
Given Obama's unwavering support of the death penalty, I would tend to side with Ms. Radogno. The record reflects it was George Ryan who risked political life and limb when he rammed through the Illinois state death penalty moratorium over the objections of Democrats and those in his own party. This is the same George Ryan who, ironically, is now doing time in prison himself.

Read the article in its entirety. Despite claiming "vast differences" between the two candidates on this issue, I've found no such chasm between McCain and Obama (and their running mates). All four seem to still adhere to the classic sacred cow in politics: getting tough on crime earns votes.

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