Melinda Tuhus from Between the Lines interviewed Marc Mauer on what to expect for criminal justice reform under President Trump.
MARC MAUER: We don’t really know yet what the criminal justice agenda is going to look like. On the one hand, we’ve had several years of building bipartisan support in Congress for sentencing reform. Sen. Grassley chairs the Judiciary Committee, long-time Republican conservative, had been a leading sponsor and proud to be sponsoring a sentencing reform bill, and we saw related bills in the House. The new president, though, to the extent he has any history on these issues, you know he announced on the campaign trail he’s the law and order candidate; he’s made some fairly vicious statements in the past advocating for a death penalty and other harsh punishments. So we don’t know how that conflict will be resolved.
The other issue of course is the next attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions having been nominated. Sen. Sessions, in addition to all his beliefs and policies regarding immigration, other issues on criminal justice policy, he’s been a very much tough on crime advocate for a long time. He was an opponent of the sentencing reform legislation in Congress when it passed through the Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote. He was one of a number of Republicans who voted against it. He hasn’t said much about what his priorities will be, but we’re not terribly optimistic at that level, either.
As well, the civil rights division of the Justice Department has been very aggressive and responding broadly to the tensions between law enforcement and African American communities, developed consent degrees, been involved in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, many other cities. Sen. Sessions has made it pretty clear he’s not very interested in pursuing that line of action and is essentially a law enforcement supporter and doesn’t seem like he’s terribly interested in dealing with tensions in any other kinds of ways right now.
You can read the full interview on Between the Lines.