The president's most recent nomination of the new Attorney General William Barr is problematic and dangerous to efforts of criminal justice reform and work to end mass incarceration.
Serving in the same position under the recently deceased former president George H.W. Bush, Barr has consistently pushed for the expansion of the prison system as a 'solution' to crime.
However, statistics have shown time and time again that more imprisonment rarely equals less crime. With recidivism rates at ~77% (nij.gov) within 5 years after release from prison, it is obvious that prisons are not effectively curbing crime and rehabilitating offenders.
Additionally, Barr is unsympathetic and ignorant of individuals who are wrongfully imprisoned or imprisoned due to circumstance rather than an evil mentality. He stated that is was “simply a myth” that prisons held “sympathetic people” and “hapless victims of the criminal justice system.”
At Forgive Everyone we strongly believe in the concept of rehabilitation and change. Many individuals within prison are in fact good people who happened to make a bad decision or were caught in bad circumstances. It is frightening to see an individual again in the running for such a high position of power that believes the ignorant myth that everyone in the prison system is evil, unsympathetic, and unrepentant. It is also frightening to see that the same person believes that it is a myth that there are individuals in the prison system that are simply victims of the system itself and are entirely innocent. Estimates of the prevalence of wrongful conviction range from as low as 0.027 percent (cited in Justice Scalia’s concurrence in Kansas v. Marsh) to as high as 37.7 percent (Poveda, 2001), though the most widely accepted estimates range between 1 and 5 percent (Gross, Hu, Kennedy, and O’Brien 2014; Gross 2008; Radin 1964; Gould and Leo 2010; Ramsey and Frank 2007; Zalman 2012). Even with a conservative estimate of a 3 percent rate of wrongful conviction, that means that there are roughly 66,000 individuals currently in prison who did not commit a crime. To deny the fact that there are a significant amount of people in prison who have not committed the crime they were convicted for is ignorant and unacceptable.
In summary, William Barr's nomination for this position is a threat to current criminal justice reform efforts being made on both sides party lines including by President Trump. Outdated mass incarceration policies have been proven to be ineffective in reducing crime and disproportionately target and imprison people of color in the United States. We need an attorney general who understands the importance of rehabilitation and reform of the currently punitive justice system. That person is certainly not William Barr.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.
Peace and Blessings.
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