Professor Douglas A. Berman publishes his blog "Sentencing Law And Policy". http://sentencing.typepad.com/
He recently posted a link to a speach by Attorney General Eric Holder given on April 4, 2013. Here is an excerpt of A.G. Holder's speach:
...The sheer number of Americans contending with these challenges is staggering. Well over two million people are currently behind bars in this country. As a nation we are coldly efficient in our incarceration efforts. One in 28 children has a parent in prison. For African American children, this ratio is roughly 1 in 9. In total, approximately 700,000 people are released from state and federal prisons every year. Nine to 10 million more cycle through local jails. And 40 percent of former federal prisoners -- along with more than 60 percent of former state prisoners -- are rearrested or have their supervision revoked within three years after their release.
Now, there's no question that incarceration has a role to play in our criminal justice system. But there's also no denying that widespread incarceration at the federal, state, and local levels imposes a significant economic burden -- totaling nearly $83 billion in 2009 alone -- along with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate. As a nation -- and as a people -- we pay a high price whenever our criminal justice policies fall short of fairly delivering outcomes that deter and punish crime, keep the American people safe, and ensure that those who pay their debts to society have the chance to become productive, law-abiding citizens.
This is why -- as we look toward the future -- we must promote public safety and deterrence while at the same time ensuring efficiency and fairness. I am concerned by a troubling report released by the United States Sentencing Commission in February, which indicates that -- in recent years -- black male offenders have received sentences that are nearly 20 percent longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes. The Department of Justice is determined to continue working alongside Congressional leaders, judges, law enforcement officials, and independent groups -- like the American Bar Association -- to study the unintended collateral consequences of certain convictions; to address unwarranted sentencing disparities; and -- where appropriate -- to explore ways to give judges more flexibility in determining certain sentences. Too many people go to too many prisons for far too long for no good law enforcement reason. It is time to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our criminal justice system. Statutes passed by legislatures that mandate sentences, irrespective of the unique facts of an individual case, too often bear no relation to the conduct at issue, breed disrespect for the system, and are ultimately counterproductive. It is time to examine our systems and determine what truly works. We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to rehabilitate, and to deter -- and not simply to warehouse and forget. ...
One of the 2 million prisoners, serving a life sentence for a third felony drug offense, writes to me about life in the penetentiary. "Jerry" says that I may tell his story.