Speaking in New Orleans, the Massachusetts senator cited disproportionate arrests of African-Americans for petty drug possession; an overloaded public defender system; and state laws that keep convicted felons from voting even after their sentences are complete.
Pennsylvania corrections chief John Wetzel launched the two-day Washington meeting with an appeal to legislators, corrections administrators, police chiefs and health officials to work together on evidence-based solutions. Another speaker said the White House would back unspecified reforms.
Marking the 50th anniversary of a wide-ranging report of a commission named by President Lyndon B. Johnson, some experts call for a 21st-century repeat, focusing on police, prosecutors, and mass incarceration. But some speakers at a Washington symposium worried the new administration’s “tough on crime” approach could limit its impact.
Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) tell a conference sponsored by the conservative Charles Koch Institute that they are campaigning hard to pass an overhaul of federal sentencing laws. The Charles Koch Foundation released a four-volume report on “Reforming Criminal Justice” that is aimed at being accessible to policymakers and to the public.
The Trump administration should ground its anti-crime strategy on evidence-based research and discard “ideologically-driven” approaches if it wants to keep Americans safe, former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday. He was joined by Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal at the start of a two-day Smart on Crime forum at John Jay College in New York.
The DOJ’s “Face to Face” program launched Monday will bring governors and other top state officials together with inmates and corrections officers. The program, organized by the Council of State Governments Justice Center is aimed at encouraging criminal justice policy makers to talk directly to those affected by their actions.
The Free Minds Book Club, which offers book discussions and writing workshops to current and former jail and prison inmates, was one of four programs honored this year by the National Criminal Justice Association as innovative programs worth repeating elsewhere. Other awards went to programs in Minnesota, Georgia and Los Angeles. In DC, only five percent of ex-inmates in the book club program reoffended.
In a six-part series, The Oklahoman examines the deeply troubled Oklahoma County criminal justice system, which the Vera Institute of Justice has concluded functions as “a maximum security correctional facility for people who are legally innocent.”
President Obama used executive orders to initiate meager reforms, but they can reversed by Trump. On the other hand, the president has limited power outside the federal justice system. Most reform authority lies in the hands of individual states.
While immigration has been the signature political issue associated with Latinos, an increasing number of that growing American ethnic group are urging criminal justice reforms. Data suggests Latinos are overrepresented behind bars and as crime victims, yet one expert says a deep understanding of the issue is inhibited by a lack of good data.