Outgoing AG Eric Holder Talks Criminal Justice Reform, Smart On Crime
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with Roland Martin about criminal justice reform during a recent one-on-one interview for TV One’s “NewsOne Now.”
During their discussion Martin highlighted the fact that criminal justice issues surrounding sentencing and mandatory minimums have come into the forefront in the past six years since he and President Obama have been in office.
Holder told Martin, “People tend to forget one basic thing, that I am a prosecutor.”
“I’ve spent most of my professional life as a prosecutor and as a judge. I’ve had the ability to see the impact of a variety of policies, mass incarceration — we are five percent of the world’s population with 25 percent of the world’s prison population.”
Attorney General Holder went to say, “We’ve had to ask some really fundamental questions, are the approaches we are taking really productive and so speaking to people in the field, using my own experience we’ve come up with a variety of new ways to approach these issues under our Smart on Crime initiative.”
Holder added, “I think that we’re starting to see impact of that.”
“For the first time in 40 years the lowered federal prison rate, at the same time we’re seeing crime rates coming down. We’ll have some numbers that we will be introducing over the next couple of weeks that show this new approach is actually working.
NewsOne Now Exclusive: AG Eric Holder Talks Police Community Relations, Voting Rights
Roland Martin, host of “NewsOne Now” recently sat down with outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder for an exclusive one-on-one interview covering his tenure as the nation’s first African American Attorney General, criminal justice reform and what’s next for him once he leaves office.
In this portion of their chat, Holder discusses police community relations and then shifts to the struggle for voting rights in America.
Martin asked Holder how did he see this nation confronting the “uneasiness, this anger that exists between police departments and between community.”
Holder explained that he has been going around the country conducting “Building Community Trust” roundtables which saw him travel to Oakland, CA, Memphis, TN, Cleveland, OH, Philadelphia, PA and Atlanta, GA to deal with community relations with law enforcement officers.
Holder said the initiative brings community members, faith leaders, youth and members of the law enforcement community together “to talk about the lack of trust that exists in certain places” and to discuss the areas where the “trust has been eroded.”
“I believe the key to all of this is dialogue,” said Holder. He believes that members of the aforementioned communities should “get into a room and talk about the fears that they have as community members, but also listen to people in law enforcement about the fears that they have about the split second decisions they have to make and their concerns about being second guessed.”
“If we have an ability to bring people together to talk about these issues, I’m really confident that you can bridge the gap that I think exists in too many places around our country and bring law enforcement together so they have a better relationship with the communities that they serve.”
When talking about the renewed assault on voting rights in America and attempts to suppress the vote 50 years after the passing of the Voting Rights Act, Holder told Martin, “If you would have told me six years ago coming in as Attorney General of the United States, one of the primary concerns I would have would be of the protection of the right to vote — I would have looked at you with a strange look.”
“But that in fact is the reality,” said Holder.
Holder went on to discuss the ruling to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act saying, “I think the Supreme Court decision was wrongly decided.”
He also cited those states in American of “Taking advantage of that opinion to try to put in place measures that are supposed to involve the integrity of the vote, but in fact are political moves to try to make it more difficult for political opponents of parties in power to be able to cast ballots.”
He added, “We’ve been real aggressive and we will continue to be real aggressive … We will look at any measures that have passed by states that have the impact of having a negative impact on people simply seeking to do that which defines us as Americans — What makes this country exceptional, which is to give ordinary citizens the extraordinary choice to decide who their leaders are.”
Holder them emphatically said, “As long as I’m Attorney General … this is going to be a primary focus for my time as Attorney General and I would expect the same is true for my successor.”
Outgoing AG Eric Holder Talks Criminal Justice Reform, Smart On Crime
Roland Martin, host of “NewsOne Now” recently sat down with outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder for an exclusive one-on-one interview covering a wide rage of topics including how he has dealt with staunch opposition from Republicans and his critics.
Holder explained to Martin when responding to harsh criticism, “You always have to maintain the dignity of the office.” He then added, “But in a lot of ways that’s not who I am.”
“You hit me, I want to hit you back. And so I have held back in a lot of the responses that I have made to criticism that I thought were unfair.”
The nation’s first African American Attorney General then told Martin he got to a point where he said, “All right I’m just not going to take that.’”
“This is a very polarized environment that we work in. In Washington DC the Attorney General over recent years has been a focus of these kinds of things. So it’s not just been me. I think back to my predecessor Janet Reno, she came this close to being held in contempt over some documents that she did not want to provide.”
“We’re not seeing anything that is necessarily new, I will say I think the intensity of the criticism that has come my way is a bit unprecedented.”
What’s Next For Eric Holder After He Vacates The Office Of Attorney General
Roland Martin, host of “NewsOne Now” recently spoke with outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder about what he plans to do once he exits the Department of Justice.
When Senate Republicans stop stalling and confirm Loretta Lynch to be the next US Attorney General,Eric Holder will leave the Justice Department and move on to the next stage of his career.
Holder told Roland Martin in this portion of their one-on-one “NewsOne Now” interview that he is already focusing on what his next plans are prior to vacating office.
Prior to starting on is new endeavors the outgoing Attorney General plans on “recharging” his batteries. “It’s been a tough six years and so I think I’m going to take some rest for a few months.”
Once that time period is over Holder said, “I want to try to decide what it is that I want to do to continue the work that we’ve started in the justice department.”
While he is taking a well deserved rest, Holder whose “… people are form Barbados” can be expected to take a trip to the island nation in the Caribbean “at least one time” for some R&R.
In February of 2014, Holder was hospitalized after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath during a staff meeting, according to a CBS News report.
A Justice Department official told CBS News that Holder became ill during his daily 9:30 a.m. meeting with staff. He excused himself and walked out of the room. His security detail then made the decision that he should go to the hospital.
He was transported by ambulance to the hospital, the official said, adding that en route Holder joked with paramedics and never lost consciousness.
In response to Martin asking about his experience of being hospitalized Holder said, “You try to come up with stress management techniques, because if you don’t you can get up in the morning and immediately, at least for me feel this knot in your chest.”
“On a day to day basis you’re dealing with national security issues, domestic issues, civil rights issues, environmental, natural resource issues — there is a constant drum of things that you have to deal with and it’s tough.
All that and more in this edition of the NewsOne Now Audio Podcast.