Is the U.S. justice system broken?

Daily Circuit Friday Roundtable
Daily Circuit illustration

Our panel, three Minnesota judges, discusses the assertion made this summer by Attorney General Eric Holder that America's justice system is broken. "It's well past time to address persistent needs and unwarranted disparities by considering a fundamentally new approach," Holder told the American Bar Association.

The Obama administration has since made changes to the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.

Members of our panel discuss the disparities they see and how the system could be made more equitable.



Justice Dept. Seeks to Curtail Stiff Drug Sentences
In a major shift in criminal justice policy, the Obama administration moved on Monday to ease overcrowding in federal prisons by ordering prosecutors to omit listing quantities of illegal substances in indictments for low-level drug cases, sidestepping federal laws that impose strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses. (New York Times)

Eric Holder's speech to the American Bar Association
Even as most crime rates decline, we need to examine new law enforcement strategies — and better allocate resources — to keep pace with today's continuing threats as violence spikes in some of our greatest cities. As studies show that six in 10 American children are exposed to violence at some point in their lives — and nearly one in four college women experience some form of sexual assault by their senior year — we need fresh solutions for assisting victims and empowering survivors. As the so-called "war on drugs" enters its fifth decade, we need to ask whether it, and the approaches that comprise it, have been truly effective — and build on the administration's efforts, led by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to usher in a new approach.

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