Holder Defends Sentencing Reform In Talk To Police Chiefs


Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the nation’s police chiefs yesterday and defended his policies of reducing some mandatory minimum federal prison sentences. In his annual appearance before the International Association of Chiefs of Police, meeting this week in Orlando, Holder acknowledged that some critics “have suggested that recent changes in charging and sentencing policies might somehow undermine our ability … to induce cooperation from defendants in certain cases.” Holder said he knows from experience, “and as so many of the seasoned law enforcement leaders in this room surely recognize, the reality is that these concerns are overstated.”

“Defendant cooperation depends on the certainty of swift and fair punishment, not on the length of a mandatory minimum sentence,” the Attorney General said. He added that, “Far from impeding the work of federal prosecutors, the sentencing reforms I've mandated have strengthened their discretion. And the belief that cooperation is wholly dependent on mandatory minimums does not align with objective facts.” Holder noted that rate of violent crime reported to the FBI in 2012 was about half the rate reported in 1993. He said the rate of incarceration in the U.S. has dropped more than 8 percent since President Obama took office, “the very first time these two critical markers have declined together in more than 40 years.” (The U.S. prisoner total increased last year, but Holder cited the incarceration rate, relating prisoner numbers to the population.)

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