"republicans haven't gone this route (for fear of losing election I assume) anywhere in the past so I'd be shocked to see them lead with this vs the democratic party."
They haven't had anybody with a cult of personality about them like this guy does. Even Reagan had to be relatively consistent with the things he'd said and done before. Trump has no such burden.
"not to mention public defenders and prosecuting attorneys.....it's all job security."
The public defenders I know would love to be able to spend more time mounting an effective legal defense for their clients if they were not so overburdened with low level drug arrests. Prosecutors are a different breed though. A friend of mine left the Brooklyn DA's office over a decade ago because he became disillusioned with how the habit was to throw the weight of the state at anyone they came across, regardless of the crime or the evidence supporting the indictment. 99% of the time if you can't get the defendant to plead guilty to the original charge you could get them to plead to a lower offense simply by threatening them with significant jail time.