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August 13, 2013

Key follow-up documents from AG Holder's big sentencing speech

I expect to post today some commentary and reactions to the Attorney General's big and important sentencing speech yesterday (basics here and here).  But, especially for lawyers and public policy advocates, as important as the speech may be some of the documents that the Justice Department released along with the speech.

First, linked via the Justice Department website from the text of AG Holder's speech is this notable eight-page DOJ document titled on its cover "SMART on CRIME: Reforming The Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century." The document expands on many of the themes appearing in AG Holder's speech and even has some of the same key text.  Here are snippets from this introduction of this document:

At the direction of the Attorney General, in early 2013 the Justice Department launched a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in order to identify reforms that would ensure federal laws are enforced more fairly and — in an era of reduced budgets — more efficiently....

The preliminary results of this review suggest a need for a significant change in our approach to enforcing the nation’s laws.  Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it.

The reality is, while the aggressive enforcement of federal criminal statutes remains necessary, we cannot prosecute our way to becoming a safer nation.  To be effective, federal efforts must also focus on prevention and reentry.  In addition, it is time to rethink the nation’s system of mass imprisonment.

Second, and right now available via a link at The Huffington Post, is this offical three-page memorandum from the Attorney General to all US Attorneys explaining in detail the new "Department Policy on Charging Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Recidivist Enhancements in Certain Drug Cases."

August 13, 2013 at 07:35 AM | Permalink

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