Alabama’s Jones Campaigned on Criminal Justice Reform

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Doug Jones, Alabama’s senator-elect to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is a former federal prosecutor who has advocated for less-harsh sentencing and more alternatives to prison, The Marshall Project reports. Lauren-Brooke Eisen of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program calls Jones “a groundbreaking voice for prosecutorial reform to end mass incarceration,” adding that, “He was one of the first prosecutors to speak out about how prosecutors can and should help reduce unnecessary incarceration.” Jones, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, was best known for obtaining the convictions of two former Ku Klux Klan members in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which killed four young black girls. The men were convicted in 2001 and 2002.

Democrat Jones, who defeated Republican Roy Moore on Tuesday, included criminal justice among his top campaign priorities, criticizing disparities in the use of mandatory minimum sentences that send a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos to prison. “These are bipartisan issues Democrats and Republicans agree on,” Jones told  Alabama State University students last month. “Try to reduce the crime, keep our communities safer and at the same time cut down the costs of the criminal justice system.”

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