The GOP After Willie Horton

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 7 2014 11:50 AM

The GOP After Willie Horton

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Raul Labrador doesn't want to lock you up forever over some marijuana.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

My latest piece looks at the slow-burning campaign by younger RepublicansRand Paul, Raul Labrador, Mike Leeto reform sentencing laws, and effectively end the era of strict mandatory minimums. This has been happening for years, and being profiled every few months, but the passage of a reform bill through the Senate Judiciary Commitee suggests that this thing might actually happen. Labrador, the sponsor in the House, told me that a big Senate vote (which could happen within the next few months) is going to determine whether a GOP House can do this.

One thing I mentioned but did not spend too much time onthis will clearly be a case of all Democrats and maybe 515 Senate Republicans backing the bill. How that gets through the House, when immigration didn't, is a huge question.

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In the meantime, it's fascinating to watch a party that won national majorities as the "law and order" coalition even entertain this stuff. It was only 20 years ago that voters would still list "crime" as a top concern, up there with the job market. The collapse of crime, and the attendant collapse in fear of crime, has changed politics and changed how Republicans compete. Betsy Woodruff has more, focusing on prison reform.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.