† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
The Attorney General of the United States
Editors note from nancy a heitzeg
“While my time in the Department of Justice will soon draw to a close, I want you to know that, no matter what I do or where my own journey takes me, I will never leave this work. I will never abandon this mission. Nor can you. If we are to honor those who came before us, and those still among us, we must match their sacrifice, their effort, with our own. The times change, the issues seem different, but the solutions are timeless and tested: question authority and the old ways. Work. Struggle. Challenge entrenched power. Persevere. Overcome.”
~ Attorney General Holder Reaffirms Commitment to Voting Rights in Speech to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches, Selma, Alabama, United States, Sunday, March 8, 2015
It is possible, in complexity, to say that the criminal legal system is flawed at the foundations – to argue for abolition- and to also say, in the very same moment, that every inch of breathing room matters. To say that it matters who is the President, who sits on the Supreme Court, and who is the Attorney General of the United States. To say that an imperfect system can be made slightly better (or much worse) by the party and people who occupy positions of power.
In that spirit, CI would to acknowledge the work of Attorney General Eric Holder – for his willingness to plainly confront systemic racism in multiple arenas and to use the power of his office to combat its’ persistent and impermissible stain on voting rights, school discipline, and policing. His Department of Justice sought to enforce the Voting Rights Act even after it had been gutted, guided the Department of Education away from zero tolerance and racialized suspensions/expulsions for the first time in more than 20 years, and indicted, in perhaps the last DOJ Report that will bear his name, the unconstitutional cesspool that is the Ferguson Police Department and Courts.
Given the constraints of the Title and the Office, that, Sir, is Enough.