AG Holder Remarks on Criminal Justice Reform

While United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced six months ago that he would be leaving his office, he is still serving and waiting for his replacement to be confirmed and take control of the US Department of Justice. In the meantime, he has not let up on his belief that criminal justice reform is a very pressing issue forAttn. General Holder Testifies At Senate Judiciary Hearing On Justice Dept Oversight the DOJ.

In a speech to the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, a long speech, there was a section that should be posted loud, clear, far, and wide. It speaks to the heart of what true criminal justice reform means and some of the reasons why it is necessary. The section is posted below:

“We must reject the notion that old practices are unchangeable, that the policies that have governed our institutions for decades cannot be altered and that the way things have always been done is the way they must always be done. When the entire U.S. population has increased by a third since 1980, but the federal prison population has grown by almost 800 percent, it is time – long past time – to look critically at the way we employ incarceration. When the United States is home to just five percent of the world’s population but incarcerates almost a quarter of its prisoners, it is time – long past time – to reexamine our approach to criminal justice. And when estimates show that a staggering 1 in 28 American children has a parent behind bars and that the ratio for African-American children is 1 in 9, it is time – long past time – to take decisive action in order to end a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration that traps too many individuals, degrades too many families and devastates too many communities.

That means more state legislatures must end felon disenfranchisement – and so many other barriers to reentry – for individuals who have served their sentences and rejoined their communities, and invest in alternatives to incarceration like drug courts – something I’d like to see in the next five years in every federal district in America. It means Congress must act to restrict and refine those crimes to which mandatory minimums apply and extend the Fair Sentencing Act so that no one is serving a sentence based on a disparity in punishment between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses that Congress, the President and the Attorney General have all declared unjust. And it means gatherings like this one must continue to bring together leaders and advocates, academics and public servants, from all backgrounds and circumstances, to renew our commitment to this vital cause.”

The full text of Holder’s speech can be found at the DOJ’s website, and is definitely worth the time it takes to read in full.

Bureau of Prisons Gets a New Director

Lappin is Out

Nearly simultaneously, the current director of the federal Bureau of Prison Harley Lappin was arrested for DUI and announced his resignation from his position at the bureau. All this occurred in late march, 2011.

Now that his retirement is looming, the embattled U.S. Attorney General has announced the appointment of Lappin’s replacement: Charles E. Samuels Jr. Below is an excerpt from the original DOJ piece from justice.gov.

“Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the appointment of Charles E. Samuels Jr. as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

“I am pleased that Charles will continue to build upon 23 years of distinguished service at the department,” said Attorney General Holder. “I am confident that Charles will provide the kind of effective and innovative leadership that will increase efficiency, further expand prisoner development and reentry programs, and allow for transparency and accountability at the Federal Bureau of Prisons – while remaining true to the BOP’s core mission of protecting public safety.”

“I am very honored to be appointed by Attorney General Holder to serve as the director for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and will continue to work with the great staff at every level of the BOP to meet our mission to protect society and provide meaningful life skills and reentry programs for our inmate population,” said Samuels. “I also look forward to working with the leadership and others in the Department of Justice, throughout the federal government and in states and local communities to further the department’s goals and objectives.”

Samuels began his career with the BOP as a correctional officer in 1988. He was promoted to a number of positions within the BOP including correctional programs administrator and executive assistant for the Northeast Regional Office. Samuels has served as associate warden at the Federal Correctional Institutions at Otisville, N.Y. and Beckley, W.Va.; ombudsman in the BOP’s Central Office; warden at the Federal Correctional Institutions at Manchester, Ky. and Fort Dix, N.J.; and senior deputy assistant director of the Correctional Programs Division.”

The Rumor Mill

This news will no doubt set the inmates of the Bureau of Prisons ablaze with rumor about how this new director will be great or terrible. The reality is that there is no indication that the BOP will do anything except the same old stuff under the direction of Samuels.