Thursday, July 9, 2009

Holder Speaks


Tonight I went to hear Attorney General Eric Holder speak at an event organized by the Vera Institute of Justice. Holder's address was a little like a state-of-the-union speech: he touched lightly on a broad range of topics in outlining his vision for the Justice Department. If I were a newspaper headline writer, I'd probably say that the lede was Holder's desire for a "post-partisan" Justice Department that would "bring science back" to criminal justice policymaking -- a desire that felt like an implicit critique of the previous administration. If I were a criminal justice policy nerd (which I suppose I am), I'd say that the most interesting element of the speech was Holder's forceful call for increased funding for indigent defense. And if I were a guy who had worked on problem-solving courts in New York for the past 16 years (which I definitely am), I'd say that the highlight was Holder's praise of New York's drug courts, which he credited with reducing both crime and prison admissions.