CFSY Director and National Coordinator Jody Kent Lavy discusses how Attorney General Eric Holder’s “Smart on Crime” initiative could impact young people in this story with by The Chicago Bureau.

In a bid to decongest the nation’s overpopulated prisons, the Obama administration has proposed leniency for certain drug cases, a move with uncertain consequences for juvenile inmates.

The president’s new Smart on Crime initiative has received national attention since Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced the policy at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco on Monday.

Attorney General Eric Holder / Creative Commons

Attorney General Eric Holder / Creative Commons

The initiative – highlighted by an easing of mandatory minimum sentencing laws for low-level drug cases – could help reduce the booming prison population. But it’s unclear what impact that will have on the country’s juvenile incarceration rate, the highest of any industrialized nation.

“This is all great language, but in terms of what reforms (Holder’s) proposing and how they will reduce juvenile incarceration – it’s an open question,” said Antonio Ginatta, Human Rights Watch advocacy director of the U.S. Program . “The real action needs to occur in state legislatures and in Congress.”

“Long story short, he identifies the right issues, but I don’t know if he has all the tools necessary to make the changes.”

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