Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Booker and Paul Discuss Crime Sentencing Reform

Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Rand Paul have an excellent discussion on MSNBC about the racial problems with the criminal justice system. The senators also talk about expunging criminal records for nonviolent drug offenses.

Booker and Paul both come out strongly against solitary confinement for minors. The ACLU has described solitary confinement as a human rights violation.

Solitary confinement of youth is itself a serious human rights violation and can constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international human rights law. In addition, the conditions that compound the harm of solitary confinement (such as lack of psychological care, physical exercise, family contact, and education) often constitute independent, concurrent, and serious human rights violations. Solitary confinement cannot be squared with the special status of adolescents under US constitutional law regarding crime and punishment. While not unusual, it turns the detention of young people in adult jails and prisons into an experience of unquestionable cruelty.

It is time for the United States to abolish the solitary confinement of young people. State and federal lawmakers, as well as other appropriate officials, should immediately embark on a review of the laws, policies, and practices that result in young people being held in solitary confinement, with the goal of definitively ending this practice. Rather than being banished to grow up locked down in isolation, incarcerated adolescents must be treated with humanity and dignity and guaranteed the ability to grow, to be rehabilitated, and to reenter society.

This is a rare interview when two lawmakers go on cable news to actually talk about policy.

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