Any Hope for Criminal Justice Reform in America?

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Is criminal justice reform even possible in the United States? Calls for criminal justice reform has been ongoing in the last several years. But optimism for reforms has been squelched by entrenched interest and lack of political will on the part of both the executive and legislative arm.

Nonetheless, in the last few years, calls for reforms ratcheted up culminating in the Landmark Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. Despite this positive development at fixing the broken system, the future of meaningful reforms remains uncertain. For one, Trump ran on a tough-on-crime platform, supporting aggressive policing of America cities and has proposed a nationwide expansion of the stop-and-frisk policing.

Trump in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, wrote: “Tough crime policies are the most important form of national defense.” He advocated longer prison sentences and the death penalty for violent offenders. While many were alarmed with increasing levels of incarcerations in America, Trump said: “we don’t have too many people in prison.”

Trump’s recent appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general raises even more troubling prospects for reforms. As a U.S. senator, Sessions opposed the 2015 Sentencing Reform Act. In a New Releases on April 28, 2016, he stated: “The changes made to the criminal sentencing bill fail to fix the bill and leave us with legislation that still would release thousands of violent felons and endanger millions of Americans whose safety is increasingly threatened by rising crime rates.” This is despite the fact that statistics shows that whereas incarceration rate has been rising, crime rates have been dropping steadily over the years. Read more 

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