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February 28, 2009

Lots of big (though really little) congressional sentencing activity

Thanks to a series of entries by the folks at The Sentencing Project, I can review lots of recent and upcoming congressional sentencing news through a few links to its website:

All of this news is welcome and notable, but all if it has the feel to me of a few good efforts to empty an ocean of federal criminal justice problems with a bucket.  Here's why:

1.  A "crime summit" dedicated to exploring "smart on crime" proposals is surely welcome (and this formal announcement details all the great speakers).  But, especially with the national mood all about cost-effective new programs, it is high time for less talk and more action on serious federal criminal justice reform.  I hope that the summit includes serious discussion of the need to demand President Obama and AG Holder to make criminal justice reform a real institutional priority.

2.  Last time I checked, the US Constitution still required equal protection under the law, which makes me wonder if the "Justice Integrity Act of 2009" (more details here from the Brennan Center) should really be a top priority for criminal justice reformer.  And the particulars of the Act seem to ensure more government bureaucracy to produce more government reports to confirm problems already evident from reports already produced by the US Sentencing Commission and other government agencies.

3.  Though federal reentry monies are always useful, this $133 million appropriation constitutes less than .05% of the monies committed through the recent stimulus bill.  Even though reentry initiatives are likely good for the economy are likely to result in long-term criminal justice expenditure savings, a lot more money could and should be invested reentry programming at the federal level.

February 28, 2009 at 01:41 PM | Permalink


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