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What should we make of the nation’s top prosecutor calling out the US for throwing too many people behind bars and challenging the failed war on drugs?

Well, this is a big deal. This is the first speech by any Attorney General calling for such massive criminal justice reforms. It is the first major address from the Obama Administration spelling out some steps to end the mass incarceration crisis and reduce the racial disparities that plague our criminal justice system.

But a lot more remains to be done to roll back the extreme sentencing laws that caused the mass incarceration crisis in the first place.

Some thoughts on how we can do it: http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform-racial-justice/how-process-eric-holders-major-criminal-law-reform-speech.

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But Holder’s proposal to avoid the harsh impact of mandatory minimums won’t accomplish everything because it is totally dependent on prosecutors’ following his lead.

We can think of one thing that might get in his way:

Of course, John Craft has a constitutional right to post this statement on his personal Facebook wall. And this statement could be dismissed as the racist ramblings of one individual. But the larger concern is whether Mr. Holder will be able to deliver on the promising proposals he made on Monday if federal prosecutors like John Craft allow their troubling personal views to seep into their work.

Federal prosecutors have always had the authority to avoid mandatory minimums. Whether they’ll exercise that discretion now remains to be seen.

More here: http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/what-could-stop-eric-holder-rolling-back-war-drugs-us-attorney-fresh-out

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Over 30,000 prisoners in California began a hunger strike – the biggest the state has ever seen. They’re refusing food to protest prisoners being held for decades in solitary and to push for other changes to improve their basic conditions.

If you feel strongly about putting an end to long-term solitary confinement, please consider taking action: https://www.aclu.org/secure/ca-hunger-strike?ms=oth_130719_acluaction_cahungerstrike_rg

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Montez Spradley, a 31-year-old man who was once sent to Alabama’s death row for a 2004 murder he did not commit, entered a plea in his retrial hearing that will allow him to be released from prison in a matter of years. Mr. Spradley has always maintained his innocence.

You can learn more about his case here: https://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/spradley-v-state-alabama

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DOMA required the federal government to discriminate against married same-sex couples by treating them as legal strangers for purposes of all federal statutes and programs.

http://www.aclu.org/edie

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The demise of DOMA section 3 is also a crucial milestone on the road to LGBT equality because DOMA is the last federal law that requires discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

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The core provision of DOMA required the federal government to treat the marriages of same-sex couples one way (as though they had never happened) and the marriages of straight couples a different way (respecting their validity in 1,138 federal contexts). The Supreme Court struck down DOMA both because of that unequal treatment and because the federal government had improperly taken over the states' normal role of deciding who is married and who isn’t.

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Today, there are more African-American adults under correctional control than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War.

The explosion in the size of our prison population over the last 40 years rakes in billions of dollars a year for CCA and other for-profit prison companies. The United States has built up the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars. This is a historical anomaly; despite relatively stable incarceration rates earlier in the twentieth century, our prison population grew by 700% between 1970 and 2005, far outpacing both crime and general population growth.

And this overincarceration epidemic has a massive and disproportionate impact on people of color. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Black men born today can expect to serve time behind bars.

More about Kanye’s CCA lyric is here: http://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights-racial-justice/kanye-west-new-slaves-and-long-tradition-locking-people-profit

And you can read all about the growth and shameful practices of CCA and other private prison companies in Banking on Bondage, our report, here: http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration

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November 3rd, 2013
DarinLeeJr
December 13th, 2013

Kanye West is my favorite and he is the greatest hip hop artist of our time. When it comes to creativity and just all out being peculiar he is the most stellar. Insane mindset keeping doing what you do and remember to keep God first and family.

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1,238

December 30th, 2013

“Today, there are more African-American adults under correctional control than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War."
That’s a retarded argument. That thing happened because the black population grew.
If today we had less blacks than in 1850, and all of them were incarcerated, then obviously we would have less blacks under correctional control than were enslaved in 1850
But that doesn’t mean it’s better for black people!
Also, it would be normal to have more black people under correctional control than were enslaved in 1850 if there were like a billion afro-americans living in US.
It’s the percentage that matters, not the number.
I agree with the rest by the way

February 9th, 2014

This is a fantastic verified annotation. Great to see so much information in it. (But I do agree with zebreniuc’s point about proportions vs. nominal statistics with relation to history.)

March 19th, 2014

America’s got more people locked up than any other country in the world. If this place is so great, why is there so much crime? Or, alternatively, if this place is so great, why are innocent people being locked up?

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