As the Senate prepares to take up changes to federal sentencing and parole guidelines, some Republicans and Democrats break from their parties' traditional stances.
For decades the Republican Party prided itself for being tough on crime, often putting Democrats on the defensive by pushing for longer, mandatory sentences for convicts.
Now that the ballots have been counted and the citizens of the commonwealth have spoken, we need Gov.-elect McAuliffe and our elected officials to focus on revamping our criminal justice system. Moving forward, efforts must be made to make the system more effective, less costly, and fairer — restoring faith in the system so that it can work for all Virginians.
The federal government has subsidized the criminalization of millions of young people simply for having a small amount of pot. “Whites Smoke Pot, but Blacks Are Arrested.” That was the headline of a column by Jim Dwyer, the great Metro desk reporter for The New York Times, in December 2009.
The United States houses 25% of the world's inmates despite having only 5% of the world's population. This fact prompted former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia to say, "Either we have the most evil people on earth living in the U.S., or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice." The prison industrial complex has a vested interest in keeping people locked up.
I was anxious to attend the League of Women Voters Candidate Night because like so many other people in the new 11th District, I knew little about either of the major party candidates. I sat with more than 100 other voters and waited for Kerry Bentivolio to arrive.
With the open seat, Dr. Taj has a more than favorable chance to win. His opponent is Kerry Bentivolio, reindeer rancher, failed business owner and part-time actor who has never held elected office. He has strong ties to libertarian financiers and Tea Party activists but has been ostracized by the Republican Party establishment, having taken large donations from Liberty for All Super PAC, affiliated with Ron Paul.
He may be a Democrat in a largely Republican town, but don't tell that to Canton voters.
Dr. Syed Taj finished fourth out of six candidates in 2008 to win a seat on Canton's Board of Trustees -- the first Democrat elected to the board in recent memory and the only Democrat on the seven-member board.
We also talk economics and tax policy. We can’t just continue to cut our way to prosperity, Taj says. We continue to fire public employees, he says, and that not only impacts quality of life, but it negatively impacts consumer spending.
The sudden resignation of Rep. Thad McCotter led to a tumultuous Republican primary in Michigan's 11th District, but the fallout may also mean a competitive general election for a seat thought until recently to be safely in the GOP column. At least, that's what Syed Taj is counting on.
MI-11 Dr. Syed Tajhttp://www.tajforcongress.com