Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder: Rethinking Federal Sentencing Policy

Today, Attorney General Holder spoke at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and Congressional Black Caucus Symposium. His speech, “Rethinking Federal Sentencing Policy 25th Anniversary of the Sentencing Reform Act” talked of reform:
The current federal sentencing system continues to be a target for criticism from judges, academics, and attorneys across our nation. These criticisms range from concerns about mandatory minimums to the use of acquitted conduct in sentencing decisions. Accordingly, a thorough review of federal sentencing and corrections policies, with an eye toward possible reform, is welcome and necessary.

AG Holder also announced the Department of Justice is conducting an internal review:
At the same time, the Department of Justice has begun its own internal review of sentencing and corrections policy:
I have asked members of the DOJ community – both in Washington, DC and in the U.S. Attorneys Offices around the country – to participate in the Sentencing and Corrections Working Group which is chaired by the Deputy Attorney General. Our review will consider:
· the structure of federal sentencing, including the role of mandatory minimums;
· the Department’s own charging and sentencing policies;
· alternatives to incarceration and re-entry;
· eliminating the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine; and
· an examination of other unwarranted disparities in federal sentencing.

Sounds like a step in the right direction.

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