Sentencing / Post-Conviction

Attorney General Holder says sentencing based on predictive data discriminates


Eric Holder. File photo by Tony Avelar.

Attorney General Eric Holder says judges rely too much on predictive data in determining criminal sentences, and that it often results in minorities being treated unfairly, the Associated Press reports.

Holder, in a speech Friday at the annual meeting of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Philadelphia, said that judges in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are meting out sentences based in part on “risk assessments” that use a defendant’s education level and socioeconomic background to predict the likelihood of the defendant committing future crimes.

Sentences should reflect the crimes committed, Holder said in the speech to mark the anniversary of his “Smart on Crime” speech last year before the ABA House of Delegates, when he announced sweeping changes geared to lessening incarceration of low-level, nonviolent offenders, particularly in drug cases.

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