Speaking to a gathering of the American Bar Association in San Francisco on August 12, Attorney General Eric Holder announced sweeping changes to current sentencing practices that will allow for greater flexibility and eliminate “mandatory minimum” sentencing for many non-violent offenders.
“We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate,” Holder told the assembly, “not merely to convict, warehouse and forget.”
In a press release, Justice Fellowship President Craig DeRoche welcomes the new steps taken by the administration:
The president, his predecessor, and literally hundreds of thousands of Americans have violated the nation’s drug and alcohol laws at some point in their lives. It is time for the country to move away from using incarceration as the default punishment for all crimes and be more prudent in the pursuit of justice. We welcome the Attorney General’s support for returning prosecutorial power to the states, where criminals can be held accountable more effectively. We urge Congress, which has already demonstrated leadership in embracing these principles, to work with the administration to codify them into law.
“Holder is taking a good first step,” DeRoche says, “and we urge him to partner with members in the U.S. Senate and House who have already been leading the way in criminal justice reform.”
Sentencing reform has been one of the few issues that has received bipartisan support. Policymakers in both parties have introduced legislation to reduce overcriminalization, overcrowding of prisons, and reentry programs designed to reduce recidivism. Reducing overcrowded prison populations through alternative sentencing based on restorative justice principles will save taxpayers millions of dollars currently used to maintain the prison system at its current levels, and studies show that such programs are likely to reduce recidivism rates in the long-term.
To learn more about Justice Fellowship and its efforts to make the criminal justice system both fair and efficient, visit their website at www.justicefellowship.org.