Trump Stood In The Way Of Criminal Justice Reform
August 27, 2020
Trump first stood in the way of criminal justice reform by not fully implementing the First Step Act, and he has fought against efforts for more sweeping changes.
Trump stood in the way of fully implementing the First Step Act by leaving unfilled seats on the sentencing commission and underfunding its programs.
New York Times Editorial Board: “Still, more can be done. As with any law, the First Step Act’s success is tied to a chief executive’s willingness to see it flourish. Mr. Trump has yet to renominate individuals to fill four vacancies at the Sentencing Commission, which currently lacks a quorum and is hamstrung from moving forward on technical components of the First Step Act that could give judges greater guidance on ‘compassionate release’ and other provisions that would shorten some prison sentences.”
New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s budget, released last month, listed only $14 million to pay for the First Step Act’s programs. The law passed in December specifically asked for $75 million a year for five years, beginning in 2019.”
Trump’s Justice Department actively undermined the criminal justice reforms Trump publicly touted.
New York Times: “Now, nearly a year and a half later, the White House has declared that reducing recidivism and improving prisoner education is a top priority — echoing some of the very policies it helped dismantle.”
Washington Post: “Trump boasts that his landmark law is freeing these inmates. His Justice Department wants them to stay in prison.”
Trump’s administration rolled back efforts to reduce sentencing disparities and effectively eliminated the use of one of the most powerful tools to combat police abuses.
New York Times: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against crime suspects, he announced Friday, reversing Obama administration efforts to ease penalties for some nonviolent drug violations.”
Washington Post: Attorney General William P. Barr is facing increasing calls to initiate a similar probe, known as a ‘pattern-or-practice’ investigation, of that city’s police department. But the Trump administration has severely curtailed the practice — along with other efforts to force broad police reforms or quell civil unrest — as the Justice Department’s posture has shifted to one that is far more deferential to law enforcement.”