Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2008


One of the striking features of the 2008 election cycle has been the absence of crime as a national political issue. Nobody has declared metaphorical war on any type of crime, run an ad about the depredations of a parolee, or even promised 100,000 cops. It may simply be that for a country embroiled in two nonmetaphorical foreign wars and deeply nervous about the state of the economy, crime is a second-order concern. It could be that the big drop in crime of all types throughout the 1990s has made the issue seem less pressing. Whatever the explanation, things are awfully quiet out there This Issue of the Federal Sentencing Reporter was conceived as a vehicle for stirring things up a bit. We asked an array of very smart folks from widely differing political and institutional perspectives to tell us what criminal justice issues America should be thinking about and what should be done about those issues. The twenty-three responses in these pages are not only fascinating individually, but collectively they may suggest one hopeful explanation of the near invisibility of crime as a hot-button issue in this political season. Despite some very real differences of opinion, there are a substantial number of points on which our authors and other serious and informed observers of American criminal justice from across the political spectrum now concur. Electoral politics encourages the magnification of even tiny differences of opinion into titanic battles over principle if one side or the other thinks it advantageous, but political warfare may be less likely where the wise heads of both sides largely agree


Published asFrank O. Bowman III, The Sounds of Silence: American Criminal Justice Policy in Election Year 2008, 20 Fed. Sent. R. 289 (2008). © 2008 by [the Regents of the University of California/Sponsoring Society or Association]. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society] for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [JSTOR (] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,



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