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End Mandatory Minimums, ABA Commission Urges


— June 30, 2004

A new ABA special commission report calls for sweeping reform of the criminal justice system, with proposals that range from abandoning mandatory minimum sentences to better preparing prisoners for return to society.

ABA President Dennis W. Archer, at a Wednesday news conference in Washington, D.C., noted: “For 20 years, we have gotten tougher on crime. Now we need to get smarter.”

The report . . . is the result of nearly a year�s work by the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission, created in response to a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy at the ABA Annual Meeting last August.

At that time, Kennedy called on the association to work on problems in the criminal justice system, including the high incarceration rate of nonviolent offenders for drug-related crimes and the rigidity of mandatory minimum sentences.

Speaking at the news conference, Kennedy defined the issue in moral and economic terms.

His home state of California spends an average of $27,000 a year on each prisoner, but just $5,000 a year on each student, Kennedy pointed out. The report notes that state and federal spending on jails and prisons rose from $9 billion in 1982 to $49 billion in 1999.

Details here from the ABA Journal.


A new ABA special commission report calls for sweeping reform of the criminal justice system, with proposals that range from abandoning mandatory minimum sentences to better preparing prisoners for return to society.

ABA President Dennis W. Archer, at a Wednesday news conference in Washington, D.C., noted: “For 20 years, we have gotten tougher on crime. Now we need to get smarter.”

The report . . . is the result of nearly a year�s work by the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission, created in response to a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy at the ABA Annual Meeting last August.

At that time, Kennedy called on the association to work on problems in the criminal justice system, including the high incarceration rate of nonviolent offenders for drug-related crimes and the rigidity of mandatory minimum sentences.

Speaking at the news conference, Kennedy defined the issue in moral and economic terms.

His home state of California spends an average of $27,000 a year on each prisoner, but just $5,000 a year on each student, Kennedy pointed out. The report notes that state and federal spending on jails and prisons rose from $9 billion in 1982 to $49 billion in 1999.

Details here from the ABA Journal.

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