Cultural Revolutions

Just Passed

Though the Crime Bill just passed by Congress toughens federal sentencing provisons and makes more federal crimes subject to the death penalty, it is irrelevant to people longing for safer streets and neighborhoods. Also largely irrelevant is the proposal to make more offenses federal crimes. There may be more federal crimes, but there won't be more federal courts, so most of those offenses will continue to be dealt with as state crimes.

Even the provisions that may be relevant—more police officers and grants for prison construction and operation—may not be the unqualified boon they appear to be at first glance. State and local governments will have to find money for expensive matching programs—and in a few years they will have to find even more money, because they will be paying the full cost. There is also big money in the bill for what are termed "community crime prevention programs." In plain language, that means pork-barrel projects, with grants and federal jobs that members of Congress can use to buy votes.

And then there is the Racial Justice Act. The Racial Justice Act was passed by the House but omitted from the final crime bill. It would have allowed death-row inmates to use statistics to challenge a state or federal death sentence as racially biased. The government would then have had to prove a negative—that there was no discrimination based on race. The Congressional Black...

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