Saturday's edition of The Wall Street Journal featured a lengthy interview with Newark Mayor Cory Booker entitled "All American." Because Mayor Booker is the only elected politician in New Jersey advocating for sentencing reform, I tend to pay close attention.
During the interview, Mayor Booker didn't disappoint. When the discussion turned to issues of criminal justice and Newark's persistently high murder rate, the following exchange occurred:
"These homicides are principally drug-related." Mr. Booker says, explaining that his next step is to tackle New Jersey's draconian drug laws. "You lock up a nonviolent offender, now they [sic] have a criminal conviction, and it becomes very hard for him to get a job . . . There's no hope of joining the productive economy, so it's very hard easy to get sucked back into the narcotics trade," Mr. Booker hopes reforms to the drug laws can "liberate the economic potential of ex-offenders so they can rejoin society instead of going back to criminality."
The article also recounts how the execrable former Newark Mayor Sharpe James (now under federal indictment for a panoply of misdeeds relating to his office) chided Booker for not being authentically black: " You have to learn to be African-American! And we don't have time to train you all night." Incidentally, Booker's initial challenge to James is chronicled in a terrific film, Street Fight.