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Tide of Cash in Judicial Elections Dampens Criminal Justice Reform

Judicial elections often involve campaign ads attacking candidates for being too soft on crime, even though there is a "growing bipartisan consensus that America locks up too many people for too long," The Marshall Project's Christie Thompson reports.

In 2014, there has been at least $13.8 million spent on TV advertising for state supreme court races, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. And the liberal American Constitution Society found that "as more TV campaign advertising aired in judicial election campaigns, elected state supreme court justices became less likely to rule in favor of defendants," Thompson further reports.

The irony is that many spenders on judicial campaign ads like the Koch brothers actually support policies in favor of decriminalization, but the "tough on crime" ads are used because they play on people's fears, Thompson also notes.