The United States has both the largest prison population and second highest prison rate in the world — disturbing facts that led a bipartisan group of senators to introduce a bill to reform sentencing laws for nonviolent offenses. But while a number of lawmakers are finally addressing over-incarceration, a certain GOP senator is of the opinion that the country suffers from exact opposite.
“If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem,” declared Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), during a speech on crime and justice at the Hudson Institute, a right-wing think tank in Washington, D.C.
“The claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: For the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted and jailed,” he said. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes.”
Cotton, who has been an open critic of the bill, continued his backward approach to the justice system by slamming the reforms as “criminal leniency.” He said by releasing criminals under shorter sentences, the reforms would only destabilize the country — because once a felon, always a felon, right?
“I saw this in Baghdad. We’ve seen it again in Afghanistan,” added the senator, who served in the army during both wars. “Security has to come first, whether you’re in a war zone or whether you’re in the United States of America.”
Re-enforcing the myth about the “war on cops,” Cotton also denounced the “the growing assault on law enforcement,” saying the officers are “constantly and unfairly criticized and undermined” while they attempt to fight an increase in violent crime.
At the end of 2014, there were 2.3 million Americans in correctional facilities, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics. Moreover, U.S. has also become one of the world’s leading jailers, second only to Seychelles, a country of 90,000 people.
Watch Sen. Tom Cotton’s speech in the video below: