Could Holder-Paul Alliance Symbolize Big Change In U.S. Sentencing Laws?


An unlikely alliance between Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) could “make politically possible the most significant liberalization of sentencing laws since President Richard M. Nixon declared war on drugs,” says the New York Times. Holder wants to make prisoners eligible for early release if they were sentenced under the now-abolished crack cocaine guidelines. He wants judges to have more discretion when sentencing nonviolent drug offenders.

Libertarian-minded Republicans see long prison sentences as an ineffective and expensive way to address crime. “This is the definition of how you get bipartisan agreement,” Paul said. “It's not splitting the difference. It's finding areas of common interest.” In the House, libertarians and Tea Party conservatives will be crucial to the final decision on the issue. Some Republicans say they are the ones being consistent on matters of protecting liberties, and that Holder's push for changes to sentencing laws is a step in their direction, not the other way around. Holder says the GOP support “makes it much less likely that people are going to be attacked as soft on crime, which is why we very consciously styled our efforts as being smart on crime.”

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