The Federal Judiciary & Criminal Justice System

Having worked several cases against the federal government in federal court, I believe the most important quality in a judge is, by far, character. Federal judges take an oath to uphold the Constitution. However, when the federal government is the defendant and significant money or power is at stake, many act to uphold the federal government. The U.S. imprisons, by far, the most people per capita. According to an April 30, 2016 article in The Economist magazine titled When economists turn to crime, “[A]merica holds over 20% of the world’s prisoners, though America is home to less than 5% of the global population . . . America spends $80 billion a year locking up 2.2m people, reflecting an incarceration rate that has climbed remorselessly to more than four times the world average, even as violent crime rates fell sharply. Between 1980 and 2014 the proportion of people behind bars more than tripled, with especially sharp rises among black and Hispanic men . . . If past trends continue, one in three black men born in 2001 can expect to serve time at one point. . . . Enter the economists. The CEA report confines itself, explicitly, to questions of costs and benefits: whether locking so many people up for so long is an efficient way to reduce crime. Its conclusion is a resounding no.” Evidence shows there is a better prison/rehabilitation balance than what is now being applied. The federal criminal justice system needs to undergo a cost-benefit analysis with positive change to follow. The Economist article on crime April 30 2016 (PDF)  2CEA incarceration criminal justice Apr 23 2016 (PDF)

End the Federal Government’s 45-year war on drugs and all the financial and social costs it creates, including the burdens on the legal system and the immigration system (e.g., people coming from Central and South American countries claiming they are in danger from drug lords, etc.), while leaving the states with the power to regulate recreational and medicinal drug use. The war on drugs is completely failing—unlawful drugs are everywhere. After such a long period of failure, logic says: Do something different. The states must balance their budgets and live within their means. They will need to act in practical cost-effective manners. They will learn from each other and gravitate towards best practices. The Economist magazine (probably the most respected financial journal in the world) stated in 2009 that eliminating the war on drugs and concentrating on education and rehabilitation is the best ‘all things considered’ option. It said in its Leaders section in the March 7th-13th 2009 edition: “In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, the 100 year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs. . . . This newspaper first argued for legalization 20 years ago. Reviewing the evidence again, prohibition seems even more harmful, especially for the poor and weak of the world. . . . Our solution is a messy one; but a century of manifest failure argues for trying it.” Note: in 2004, when I first ran for U.S. Senate, I was in favor of (only) legalizing marijuana. Now, some states have legalized it and the trend is for legalization expansion–possibly nationwide. The drug war will eventually end. A more recent article from The Economist regarding the drug war, with the former president of Columbia likening it to riding “a stationary bicycle,” is attached.  The Economist March 21 2020 Burning leaves article (PDF)