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As we all know, the United States has embarked on a campaign of intensifying harshness in criminal punishment over the last three decades or so. Longer prison sentences and the reinstatement of the death penalty are the most important aspects of this campaign, but they are only part of it. These thirty years of harsh justice have made for an epochal shift in American law, opening a large divide between the United States and the other countries of the western world. American criminal punishment is now staggeringly harsher than punishment in such countries as Germany, France, or Japan: In criminal punishment, there is no longer any single "western" or westernized world. There is an American world, tough and unforgiving, and a Euro-Japanese world, mild in ways that have come to seem wholly impossible in the American climate.

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