ERIC HOLDER and Rick Perry (pictured) have little in common. America’s attorney-general is black, liberal and uses the word “community” a lot. The governor of Texas is white, conservative and says “God” a lot. Last month Mr Holder’s Justice Department sued Texas for allegedly trying to make it harder for blacks to vote. Last year Mr Perry ran to unseat Mr Holder’s boss, Barack Obama.
On one thing, however, the two men agree. On August 12th Mr Holder said: “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law-enforcement reason.” He then unveiled reforms to reduce the number of people sent to America’s overcrowded federal prisons. In this, he was following the perfectly-coiffed Texan’s lead. Several years ago, Mr Perry enacted similar reforms in the Lone Star State, and they worked. ...
The high cost of mass incarceration has attracted attention from both left and right. In March Rand Paul, a Republican senator, and Patrick Leahy, a Democratic one, introduced the Justice Safety-Valve Act of 2013, which would let judges impose sentences below the mandatory minimum. In July Mr Leahy, along with Dick Durbin and Mike Lee, a Democrat from Illinois and a Republican from Utah, introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013. It would, among other things, shorten mandatory minimums and expand the safety-valve. ...
As Mr Holder noted, these policy shifts mirror similar ones that more than half of all American states have enacted over the past decade. The wave began with Texas—then as now led by Mr Perry—which in 2003 passed a law sending people convicted of possessing less than a gram of drugs to probation rather than prison. In 2007 Texas allocated $241m for drug-treatment and alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders. Between 2003 and 2011 violent crime in Texas fell by 14.2%. The state’s prison population has also declined steadily. Sentencing reform passed in Georgia—where one in 13 adults is imprisoned, on probation or on parole—will save the state an estimated $264m over the next five years. Kentucky’s is forecast to save the state $400m while reducing its prison population by 3,000 over the next ten years.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
'America is waking up to the cost of mass incarceration'
What do Texas Governor Rick Perry and US Attorney General Eric Holder have in common? Via The Economist:
Posted by Gritsforbreakfast at 6:57 PM