Describing a grim picture of clogged jails and devasted civil dockets, Federal Judge Edward Becker decried the overload of drug cases in the Federal criminal law system in a Law School conference speech Saturday. During his half-hour keynote speech, part of a day-long conference on the purpose and procedures of the Federal Judiciary system, Becker explained that due to the overload of drug cases, there are several other cases that are important and "simply cannot get to trial." At the conference, sponsored by the University's Federalist Society, he attributed the effect of this overwhelming case load to a growing pre-trial detention population, which he said has "exploded to an alarming extent." But he added, "[there] just ain't no local jail space". Becker stressed throughout the speech that the public as well as government officials must start to realize that "we've got a crisis, and we've got to meet that crisis." The judge blasted the Congress as irresponsible when it passed overly strict sentencing guidelines, and noted that the mandatory minimum sentencing law in particular is forcing judges to deal out sentences that they know are unjust. Becker expressed the need for "more consideration of alternatives" to prison, such as home detention, shock incarceration, community service or intense supervision and asked that the private sector use its influential voice to force the government to "take a hard look at what is troubling federal judges." Participants in the panels held throughout the day included other members of the U.S. Court of Appeals, as well as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Wall Street Journal and the Manhattan Institute. According to organizers, the conference was designed to bring together students and faculty to discuss legal issues currently facing the United States.Comments powered by Disqus
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