Brennan Center Says Trump Threatens Justice Reform

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Criminal justice policy changes by the Trump administration “threaten to increase the federal prison population and disrupt state and local movements for reform that have broad, bipartisan backing,” says the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The center’s Inimai Chettiar  charges that President Trump has “sounded false alarms about rising crime nationwide and wrongly linked immigration to both this phantom increase and the opioid crisis. He preys on people’s fears to try to justify …ineffective and overreaching policies.”

A new report from the center on the administration’s first year in office note that policy changes so far have focused on “increasing aggressive prosecutorial practices, changing federal drug enforcement policy, decreasing oversight of problematic police practices, and resurrecting rhetoric around fear of crime.” In the immigration area, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials rose by more than 30 percent, and arrests of people with no criminal conviction increased 146 percent from fiscal year 2016. ICE increased its use of detainers, or requests that local law enforcement hold someone in custody and hand them over to federal law enforcement, by 65 percent. The center notes that the White House will support federal legislation that improves former prisoners’ reentry into society, but has not made a commitment to back federal sentencing reform efforts with bipartisan support. The center says that the Department of Homeland Security expects the daily population in immigration detention centers will increase by 25 percent, which it says will have a significant impact on the criminal justice system.

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