May 19, 2016

"Tehran Tom" Cotton needs some attention, again. Maybe he's angling to be on the Republican VP short list or something, but whatever it is, it means something stupid came out of his mouth again.

Speaking to the hard-right wing Hudson Institute, Cotton called for more, not less, Americans to be incarcerated.

After specifically pointing to the fragile bipartisan criminal reform bill on tap in Congress, Cotton smashed it to smithereens. A bill, by the way, championed by Charles and David Koch and their affiliated organizations.

With regard to specific reforms like restoring voting rights to felons, prohibiting employers from inquiring about past criminal history, and altering minimum sentencing guidelines, Cotton said, "These policies are not merely wrong. They are dangerous. They threaten a return to the worst days of the 1990s, when law-abiding citizens lived in fear of their lives. Indeed, we may be living through the leading edge of a new crime wave."

I think we all know he's most aggravated about the restoration of voting rights to felons.

The problem, as Cotton sees it, is simple. "If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem," he believes.

In other words, it's not that we've got too many people in jail. It's that there are too few, and that's why we've got to crack down!

ThinkProgress notes the danger of Cotton's ideas:

America is by far the world's leading jailor, with less than 5 percent of the planet's population but more than 20 percent of its prison population. Half of all the countries in the world imprison fewer than 150 out of every 100,000 citizens. The U.S. puts 716 out of every 100,000 Americans is in prison -- compared to 475 in Russia, 294 in South Africa, 274 in Brazil, 132 in Malaysia, and 80 in Egypt,

It may be tempting to dismiss Cotton as an unserious figure. But his backward approach to criminal justice is already having a tangible influence on the still-young bipartisan movement to walk back years of self-defeating policy crafted in the heyday of Tough On Crime politics.

Now some of this is clearly just related to the ongoing election season we're in. It gives Cotton a chance to say "super-predator" and Hillary Clinton a few times in a speech and give some sound bites. It gibes well with Trump's bombastic, fascistic ideas about how this country should be governed.

The Build-A-Wall-Keep-Them-Out tough guy claims mesh nicely with Cotton's more sanitized version of the same thing. It's not that we need to be just. We just need to lock more up.

Who'd like to take odds on the racial makeup of those they'd like to lock up most?

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