Holder Plan Limited, More Federal, State Action Needed, ACLU Official Says


The immediate impact of Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to reduce the prison population “will be very limited at best,” Vanita Gupta of the American Civil Liberties Union writes in the New York Times. Federal inmates account for just 14 percent of the nation's prisoners, Congressional action is needed, and “it's unclear how federal prosecutors will enforce his plan,” Gupta writes. For lasting impact, “we need to look at the states, where most criminal defendants are sentenced,” she says. In state capitals, low crime rates and shrinking state coffers have led to a consensus among lawmakers and advocates across the ideological spectrum “that our addiction to incarceration is not sustainable, effective or humane.” Gupta advocates elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws and recalibration of drug policies. Federal aid to state and local agencies, like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant and the Community Oriented Policing Services, must prioritize diversion and rehabilitation over arrest and incarceration, Gupta contends.

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