Federal Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York said during a keynote address at the 11th Annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America at John Jay College of Criminal Justice that the U.S. criminal justice system is broken and needs to be fixed, wrote Adam Wisnieski, contributing editor of The Crime Report.
“We created this monster and it’s taken on a life of its own,” said Rakoff, speaking critically of judges who everyday impose “terrible sentences” and send people to prison for extremely long periods of time without questioning the system.
He said even in the Southern District of New York, one of the more progressive federal court districts in the country, his judicial colleagues think sentencing offenders to extremely long prison terms is fair.
“They have bought into this draconian system, and I find that to be terrible,” he said to a crowd of journalists and criminologists gathered for the second day of John Jay’s two-day symposium, 'Making Room for Justice: Crime, Public Safety & the Choices Ahead for Americans.”
He said attitudes of judges have changed from a time when jail was a last resort and judges would try to sentence offenders to places where they could get help like a drug program or job-training program.
“That attitude disappeared with rising crime rates,” he said. “Right or wrong, the attitude right now of most judges is prison is the default position.”
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