Many prosecutors oppose leniency, arguing that tough sentencing guidelines give them more leverage. That’s true, but it’s no defense of punishments that are tougher than they should be. Some prosecutors also argue that minimum sentences promote consistency; yet the Sentencing Commission found that the reverse is often true because many prosecutors and judges weren’t comfortable throwing the book at offenders.
The critics are right about one thing: Saving money can’t be the primary reason for reform. But when fiscal sanity meshes with the goal of more fairly matching crime and punishment, officials should be thankful for a rare win-win.