Responding to public concern about crime, state and federal lawmakers in recent years have approved tough sentencing laws designed to “send a clear message” to criminals. Despite such stringent sentencing reforms as mandatory minimums, abolition of parole and “three strikes and you're out” for repeat offenders, crime and drug use continue at high levels. Advocates of tougher penalties say they ensure that violent crimes are punished consistently and firmly, and that over time criminals will learn crime does not pay. Critics argue that the laws are unfair, do not deter crime and waste scarce prison space by putting the wrong kinds of offenders behind bars. As the Republican-controlled Congress seeks to revise the $30 billion 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill, sentencing remains a contentious issue.