May 16, 2019

Mark Holden: Four Ideas to Take the Next Step in Criminal Justice Reform

Post by Freedom Partners

In a move of rare bipartisanship, many leaders are putting aside their differences to finally reform federal and state justice systems.

New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center just released a collection of essays from lawmakers and thought leaders from all over the political spectrum who share ideas for reducing crime, starting successful re-entry programs and finding work for those with criminal records. The list of authors includes Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner, cut50 co-founder and CNN host Van Jones, and many more.

Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden is featured in the new book on criminal justice reform. In his essay, Holden praises the work done in the last year to reform the justice system through the federal First Step Act.

But the work isn’t done yet.

Holden lays out four bold moves that would improve outcomes within the justice system. Among them, revamping the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Through no fault of its own, the Bureau of Prisons needs a makeover. First, it should be renamed the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR), a name that reflects its objective. The goal of prison should be to correct illegal behavior and rehabilitate people to keep them from reoffending. Next, the bureau should be housed outside the Department of Justice. With all due respect, the Department of Justice’s mission isn’t to rehabilitate people who commit crimes; it’s to prosecute and put them in prison, often for long periods of time. If we’re serious about keeping federal inmates from returning to prison, we should place BCR under the supervision of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is better suited to rehabilitate those in need.”

Rehabilitating people while they’re in prison is just one way we can be smart on crime while keeping communities safe. Holden makes the case for reforming civil asset forfeiture practices, providing more effective counsel for those without resources, and providing opportunities for people to work and succeed after they’re released from prison.

Our organization and the Network we’re part of view criminal justice reform as a moral, constitutional and fiscal issue. Our society should unite behind solutions that provide safe communities while treating all the accused and convicted fairly, regardless of their income or connections.

The reform ideas in Holden’s essay would move our justice system in a better direction.

You can read Holden’s full essay here.