Is America getting less punitive?

Radley Balko says: "In a new piece for Huffington Post, I look at a number of criminal justice related issues on this year's ballot, including marijuana, Three Strikes, and the recent defeats of several prosecutors who played a role in wrongful convictions. I also chat with a couple longtime criminal justice reform activists about whether the results indicate an electorate less fixated only on punitive approaches to crime and incarceration."

Even if the public mood has shifted, Congress is usually way behind. "There's always an innate caution among politicians about doing anything they perceive as controversial," Sterling says. "They're really sensitive to what cops say. They don't want the police unions opposing them, and no politician wants to pick a fight with a police chief. When I was on Capitol Hill, and this was 20-25 years ago, I had lawmakers tell me that it made perfect sense to them to legalize drugs. But they'd always say, 'You can never quote me on that.' None of them wanted to appear soft on crime, even if it was the right thing to do."

Americans Voting Smarter About Crime, Justice At Polls