Why Republicans Have Come to Jesus on Justice Reforms

Utah’s Deseret News says a Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in 1995 might be stunned to see today’s leading GOP officials, whose predecessors never met an extreme sentence they didn’t like, speaking out against interminable prison terms.

The Deseret News says U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is represents a new breed of state and federal Republican leaders who are turning away from “tough on crime” in favor of “smart on crime.”  Conservative criminal justice reformers outside of government, ranging from anti-tax crusaders calling for smaller government to religious ministries that preach redemption, have also seized the issue. Many Democrats have long been willing to embrace reform over punishment. Of the 36 cosponsors on a major bipartisan Senate bill last session, 20 were Democrats, and many GOP senators, including Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, continue to oppose reforms.

But Republicans like Lee are moving their party in a direction typically seen as the domain of Democrats, creating the rare opportunity for bipartisan breakthroughs. A Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in 1995 might be stunned to see today’s leading GOP officials — whose predecessors seemingly never met an extreme sentence they didn’t like — speaking out against interminable prison terms.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Sessions Faces Hurdles as He Turns Back Clock on Crime

Will his minions in the U.S. Justice Department be willing to follow Jeff Sessions as he tries to lead American criminal justice back to the lock-’em-up days of the 1990s? Harvard’s Alex Whiting says, “I don’t know if he is really going to be able to persuade the department to follow his lead on this.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought sweeping change to the Department of Justice, but the Hill reports he will face hurdles as he tries to recycle policies that are out of step with contemporary reforms. In just two months, Sessions has moved quickly to overhaul the policies and priorities set by the Obama administration. He has rolled back protections for transgender students and rescinded plans to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons. He called for a review of police consent decrees and shut down a panel of science and legal scholars that was scrutinizing questionable forensic techniques.

Sessions has made immigration enforcement a top priority, ordered a focus on violent crime by federal prosecutors across the country, and appointed Steven Cook, an outspoken opponent of criminal justice reform, as assistant deputy attorney general. Alex Whiting of Harvard Law School said it appears Sessions is resurrecting the tough-on-crime policies last seen during the George W. Bush administration. “I think in the criminal justice world there seemed to be a consensus between the right and left that those policies, those rigid policies of the war on drugs and trying to get the highest sentence all the time, had failed,” he Whiting said.  “I don’t know if he is really going to be able to persuade the department to follow his lead on this.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Slate Writer Calls Out ‘False Prophet’ Reform Prosecutors

Writer Jessica Pishko singles out Hillar Moore III, the district attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish, La., whose “vaguely progressive rhetoric helps him win elections and brings him national attention.”

In the past few years, a new breed of district attorney in places like Chicago, Orlando and St. Louis have committed to making the American criminal justice system less punitive and more humane, Jessica Pishko writes for Slate. In many other locales, elected prosecutors have sensed the change in tides and adapted their message even as they’ve refused to scrap their outdated methods. These district attorneys talk about reform and perhaps make incremental changes, but they vehemently resist anything resembling a true overhaul of a broken system.

Pishko cites Hillar Moore III, the district attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish, La., whose “vaguely progressive rhetoric helps him win elections and brings him national attention…Moore is one of a long line of prosecutors who came into office talking about changing the system but who quickly resorted to tough-on-crime policies to consolidate their power and prey upon the fears of the public.” She writes that Moore is among a group of “false prophet prosecutors” that included Anita Alvarez in Chicago, Seth Williams in Philadelphia and Tim McGinty in Cleveland. “All of these prosecutors did what Moore is currently doing: spouting off kinder, gentler rhetoric while doling out harsher and harsher punishments,” Pishko writes. “If Hillar Moore wants to keep his job when election time comes three years from now, he needs to show Louisiana he can do more than just say the right thing.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Offenders Believe That Justice Reforms Are BS

Subtitles: Are we playing a game of meaningless gestures? Is Ban the Box pointless? Is voting a hollow gesture? Offenders, criminals or justice-involved individuals; are labels important? Author By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s […]

Subtitles: Are we playing a game of meaningless gestures? Is Ban the Box pointless? Is voting a hollow gesture? Offenders, criminals or justice-involved individuals; are labels important? Author By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s […]

from http://www.crimeinamerica.net