One Reform Few Are Talking About: Restoring Parole for Federal Sentences


Attorney General Holder’s proposals to rely less on mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases “will meet with some significant resistance, and not just from the political right,” predicts Stanford psychiatry Prof. Keith Humphreys, writing for the Washington Monthly. Humphreys recalls that many liberals supported the establishment of mandatory minimums, including former House Speaker Tip O'Neill of Massachusetts. Some argue “that if you let judges determine sentences, some of them will hand out stiffer punishments to minority criminals than they do to white criminals convicted of the same offense,” he says. Humphreys focuses on a different reform: restoring parole in the federal prison system, which Congress abolished in 1984. “If we are willing to have correctional officials make judgments about who deserves compassionate early release because of illnesses and family tragedies, then we should be equally willing to let the same officials make judgements about who might be released because they are rehabilitated and unlikely to re-offend,” Humphreys argues.

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