Just hours before President Obama’s last State of the Union address, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), sat down with The Atlantic’s Washington Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons to preview the address and discuss criminal justice reform in the United States.
Below are excerpts from Chairman Goodlatte’s appearance on January 12:
On the Current State of Criminal Justice | “We haven’t had a comprehensive review of our criminal justice system and our criminal justice laws in several decades, so it’s appropriate to periodically take a look at that and ask …’ what needs to be done in terms of making sure that sentences are fair… what needs to be done to ensure that people coming out of prison don’t commit crimes and don’t go through a revolving door and right back into prison? …And there are issues with new technology that have made it better possible to determine if someone has committed certain types of crime. Has increased awareness that innocent people don’t need to go to prison in the first place.
On Confidence in the Justice System, Bipartisan Way Forward | “When you have hundreds of thousands of government-created laws and regulations, there’s nobody that knows what all of those laws are, so all of us are subject to violating laws we don’t have any idea that we’re violating. One of the elements of a crime, historically, is to show criminal intent and I think that is an important part of this discussion now that has been carefully worked on. [Republicans and Democrats] agree that addressing this issue in a bipartisan fashion of requiring the showing of criminal intent in appropriate circumstances is a part of doing justice and of making sure that people are prosecuted fairly and that there’s confidence in the system.”