Justice Anthony Kennedy won an outburst of applause at a recent meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco when he criticized mandatory sentencing laws.
"Every day in prison is much longer than any day you've ever spent," Justice Kennedy said. "A country which is secure in its institutions and confident in its laws should not be ashamed of the concept of mercy."
Two centuries ago, Adam Smith had something to say about mercy as well: "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."
Innocent victims of crime seem to disappear from the lofty vision and ringing rhetoric of those who worry that the punishment of criminals is "too severe," as Justice Kennedy put it. If a day in prison can be pretty long, so can every day living in a high-crime neighborhood, where you have to wonder what is going to happen to your son or daughter on the way to or from school.
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Thomas Sowell takes on Justice Kennedy's recent call to end mandatory sentencing.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:27 AM