As America’s distinction of having the highest incarceration rate of all industrialized nations begins to take a toll on state and local governments, Republican and Democratic platforms outline plans to keep the public safe from crime while reducing the prison population.
The Grand Old Party’s new platform breaks from the comprehensive “tough on crime” policies the party is known for. They support state and local governments that provide initiatives that will reduce drug abuse and redirects first-time offenders towards rehabilitation. The platform further emphasizes that “Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization.”
The platform alsoendorses faith-based institutions that would divert the youth and first-time, non-violent offenders from committing more crimes.
But much of the platform continues to favor the “lock ‘em up” strategy. The party advocates for mandatory prison time for assaults against law enforcement officers is a step in the right direction. The 2012 Republican Platform also says, “Mandatory prison sentencing for gang crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, repeat drug dealers, rape and robbery are appropriate sentences.”
“Liberals do not understand this simple axiom: criminals behind bars cannot harm the general public,” the platform reads. The platform opposes parole for dangerous or repeat felons and supports a national registry for convicted child murderers.
The 2012 Democratic National Platform has a different approach to public safety. Its platform takes credit for having created the Federal Interagency Reentry Council in 2011 and the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces racial disparities for sentences that involves drug crimes. “DNA testing should be used in all appropriate circumstances. Defendants should have effective assistance of counsel, and the administration of justice should be fair and impartial,” reads the Democratic document.
The party supports the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which is a community-based law enforcement program, as well as “local prison-to-work programs and other initiatives to reduce recidivism.”
The Democratic Party advocates for continuing to expand the use of drug courts.
Democrats emphasizes the rights of victims should be respected and their voices heard. “We support reauthorizing the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act,” the document says.