Why clemency reform is next for criminal justice

January 15, 2019

As the FIRST STEP Act’s name indicates, the bipartisan legislation to improve the United States’ criminal justice system is only one component of greater reforms. In 2019 and beyond, however, there is still much work to do.

Clemency reform is next,  Koch Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mark Holden writes in a new op-ed for The Atlantic with coauthors Rachel Barkow, professor of regulatory law and policy at New York University, and Mark Osler, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas.

While the FIRST STEP Act greatly reformed sentencing procedures moving forward, most of its provisions do not apply to those who have already been sentenced.

“It took six years of intense wrangling to get the First Step Act passed. Clemency reform, however, requires the action of only one man,” write Holden, Barkow, and Osler. “The president can act alone to fix what Congress did not.”