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June 21, 2009

Notable recent comments about sentencing reforms from AG Holder

Thanks to this post at TalkLeft, I saw that Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the crack-powder sentencing disparity and other drug sentencing issues on Friday at the D.C. Court of Appeals Judicial Conference. His speech is available at this link, and here are some of the notable sentencing comments:

In my career as a prosecutor and as a judge here in Washington, I often saw too many capable, fundamentally good young people sacrifice their claim to a future because they chose to become involved in criminal, but non-violent, narcotic offenses.  Now, the Department of Justice will never back down from its duty to keep neighborhoods safe from the ills of drug abuse and the collateral damage from narcotics trafficking.  But we need to make sure we discharge this duty in a way that is fair and right.  And to do that, we have to take time to think through our approach to sentencing.

It is the view of this Administration that the 100-to-1 crack-powder sentencing ratio is simply wrong.  It is plainly unjust to hand down wildly disparate prison sentences for materially similar crimes . It is unjust to have a sentencing disparity that disproportionately and illogically affects some racial groups.  I know the American people can see this.  And that perception of unfairness undermines governmental authority in the criminal justice process and breeds disrespect for the system.  It leads victims and witnesses of crime to think twice before cooperating with law enforcement, tempts jurors to ignore the law and facts when judging a criminal case, and draws the public into questioning the motives of its officials.  The result is that some drug offenders wind up right back on the streets without any punishment or rehabilitation and some go to jail for long and unfair periods of time – which is exactly the opposite outcome that tougher sentencing laws were meant to ensure.

I am confident that most of us agree that this situation benefits no one and must be reformed.  But we also know that doing so won’t be an easy task.  Agreeing on the problem is just the beginning, and we need to all put our heads together to come up with the fairest solution.  If our goal is to arrive at a 1-to-1 ratio, how do we get there?  We are asking this question now at the Department, alongside related questions, such as what the role of reentry programs for the incarcerated should be in a fully realized system of justice.

June 21, 2009 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The question is why anyone would take anything that Eric Holder says at face value. First of all, he's a corrupt, unethical slimeball--Marc Rich. Second, this bozo whined about the disparity in the federal death penalty--knowing full well that the issue was not racial bias on the part of DOJ, but rather a reflection in the rate of participation in the types of crime focused on by DOJ. Third, his DOJ tossed default judgments against black activists threatening people at polls.

I'd say his credibility on race issues is about zero.

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