Jackson’s hearing shows how much Republicans and Democrats differ on crime

“We don’t see a departure at the state level,” said Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney who is now the executive director of Right on Crime, a conservative reform group. Federally, he said, “pretty much the same crowd just got louder.”

Conservatives also fault some Democrats for seeking maximum goals, rather than pragmatic compromise, on issues such as qualified immunity for police officers.

“I think what we’re hearing is a reflection that the reform movement has gone beyond modest goals to quite radical ideas,” said Rafael Mangual, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute curator and author of a forthcoming book. who criticizes criminal justice reform.

Left-leaning groups are watching the escalation of right-wing language with concern, however, warning of the costs of returning to the criminal policies of the 1980s and 1990s that filled prisons with low-level drug addicts and other non-violent offenders. To that end, the Brennan Center for Justice, one of the leading critics of these policies, publishes a series of essays on “punitive excess” that seek to push back against the narratives in favor of mass incarceration.

“This is a really important time for justice reform,” said Lauren-Brooke Eisen, who directs the center’s justice program. “It would be a mistake to regress, to revert to policies that have not produced public safety.”

Several advocates pointed to a recent breakthrough on the EQUAL Act, a long-awaited federal bill aimed at reducing the sentencing disparity between powder and crack offenders. This week, the bill hit the key threshold of 10 Republican co-sponsors in the Senate, smashing a possible filibuster.

For Jillian Snider, a retired New York City police officer and policy director of R Street, a right-wing think tank, it was a sign that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antics were hardly representative of Republicans in their whole.

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