MSNBC's Alter Suggests Releasing Criminals from U.S. Prisons to Honor Mandela

On Thursday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter played the liberal caricature by actually suggesting that, in light of former South African President Nelson Mandela's passing, Americans should practice "forgiveness" toward "hundreds of thousands of people" who are serving life prison sentences. Speaking to host Al Sharpton, Alter suggested:

So my question tonight, Rev, is: Can we import that spirit of forgiveness and apply it to the hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated who, for the rest of their lives, you know, will be stigmatized by this? Could we figure out a way to forgive them, maybe expunge some of those records? Release some prisoners who, with three strikes and you're out, you have, you have people who have been there for so many years.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, December 5, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me go to you first. You've covered President Obama extensively. What kind of Mandela influence do you see in President Obama?

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Huge influence, as the President himself said today in his statement. I believe that he said he would not be who he was without Nelson Mandela. He followed him from an early age. You may recall when the President was a student at Occidental College in California, he took part in anti-apartheid demonstrations. He was a leader on that issue and focused on it.

So one of the things that is really striking me tonight, Rev, is what can Americans learn and American society learn from the example of Nelson Mandela? You know, I think back to during the Civil Rights movement, Mahatma Gandhi was very influential in the United States on that movement, with his principle of civil disobedience, and that helped to give the movement life. So what is Mandela's message? Well, today we're hearing even very conservative Senators and other figures talking about the spirit of forgiveness that he embodied in truth and reconciliation in South Africa.

So my question tonight, Rev, is: Can we import that spirit of forgiveness and apply it to the hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated who, for the rest of their lives, you know, will be stigmatized by this? Could we figure out a way to forgive them, maybe expunge some of those records?

SHARPTON: Mmm.

ALTER: Release some prisoners who, with three strikes and you're out, you have, you have people who have been there for so many years.

SHARPTON: So you're saying can we find ways to-

ALTER: Exactly.

SHARPTON: -in our memorializing Mandela to really actualize it?

ALTER: That's the key.

--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.