Democratic control of the White House and Congress provides a “real opportunity to attack some big [criminal justice] issues,” says Noah Bookbinder, a top aide to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Reauthorizing the federal juvenile justice law and examining federal programs that encourage the testing of DNA evidence in criminal cases are likely to be high on the priority list of the new Congress, Bookbinder told criminal justice organization leaders yesterday in Washington, D.C.
Increasing funding for the federal COPS office and anticrime aid to states and localities (primarily the Byrne JAG program) also will be discussed, said Erek Barron, a staffer for Sen. and Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden. Biden, a leading Senate advocate of anticrime programs for decades, will retain that interest in crime issues when he moves to the White House, Barron said. Gail Hoffman, a lobbyist who long has worked on crime issues, told the group it is notable that so many key players in the new administration and transition have an intimate knowledge of state and local crime issues, including Biden, former Biden aide Ron Klain, new White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and likely Attorney General nominee Eric Holder. On the other hand, Barron warned that with so many issues on the table in Washington anticrime advocates should “keep their expectations in check.”