Mauer ‘Not Overly Optimistic’ About Sessions on Sentencing

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“I’m not overly optimistic’ about the prospects for federal sentencing reform under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project tells AlterNet. He notes that the Alabama senator has backed “some criminal justice reform in the past, most notably the Fair Sentencing Act and the Prison Rape Elimination Act … but in other areas, he’s pretty much a hardliner. He was one of a handful of Republicans who vocally opposed sentencing reform legislation that was moving through Congress last year.”

Mauer says that whether Sessions “makes this a priority issue or lets his GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill take the lead will tell us a lot about the prospects.” With support from some Republicans at the state level, reform there “will continue to a significant extent,” Mauer predicts, noting that “by now, a number of states have had good experiences with reducing prison populations, with no adverse effects on public safety. The public has been supportive, or at least not opposed.” His conclusion is that “criminal justice reform has never been easy … but it’s come to the point where the public environment has been shifting in a more rational, compassionate direction.”

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