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January 28, 2008

Will President Bush's last State of the Union address have any crime and justice talk?

Though President George Bush's last few State of the Union addresses have lacked any criminal justice talk, it bears recalling that his SotU history includes a few criminal justice surprises:

I spotlight these prior highlights in part because, as detailed here, the Second Chance Act inspired by the 2004 speech still has not managed to secure passage through Congress.  (As lameted here, even though the current bill only provides roughly half the funds that the President initially proposed, Senator Jeff Sessions has blocked blocked the bill purportedly because of concerns that it would increase federal spending on untested programs.)  And yet, while the Second Chance Act still awaits enactment, Attorney General Michael Mukasey has the unvarnished chutzpah to express concerns about the re-entry challenges facing the few federal prisoners soon to be released as a result of the new crack guidelines (details here and here).  Grrr, and a pox on all their houses.

January 28, 2008 at 04:28 PM | Permalink


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President Bush's re-entry initiative was in the last paragraph of his 2004 State of the Union speech, and it took re-entry advocates by surprise. Legend has it that Charles Colson somehow had it inserted in the speech. The Bush presidency has a history of subordinates literally making policy, while Bush remained silent. At any rate, apparently Bush never picked up the phone. The influence of the Presidency was never behind the Second Chance Act. He said he would sign it--and in those days he votoed nothing--but even when he had influence over his own party, when it came to helping re-entering prisoners, he failed to use it. This is a little known piece of the Bush legacy.

Posted by: Michael Israel | Jan 29, 2008 10:38:18 AM

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