Ever since 1988, when the George H. W. Bush presidential campaign machine wielded the Horton horror story against his Democratic rival, the threat of being “Willie Horton’ed” has shaped the politics of crime and punishment. “The ghost of Willie Horton has loomed over any conversation about sentencing reform for over 30 years,” says Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., co-sponsor of one such proposal.

Source: Willie Horton Revisited | The Marshall Project