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Expectations for First Black Attorney Gen. Extremely High

The expectations for Eric Holder Jr. are extremely high. Will he be able to measure up? Are the senators who voted against his confirmation waiting for him to stumble?

By Carrie Johnson and Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — For decades, the face of the criminal justice system in this country has been black and male: hundreds of thousands locked behind bars, arrested in disproportionate numbers and facing execution at rates far greater than those for the general population.
This week, Eric H. Holder Jr.’s swearing-in as the nation’s first black attorney general and its top law enforcement official came weighted with heavy expectation that the system could change.
Known as a prosecutor who was unflinchingly tough on crime, Holder, 58, is also a former civil rights lawyer who has mentored young black men. Many advocates view him as the best chance in decades to right what they consider unchecked racial injustice and insensitivity by federal officials.
Civil rights advocates are already outlining a long list of priorities, including changing laws that lead to disproportionate prison terms for blacks, ending racial profiling and stepping up the policing of discrimination in employment and housing.
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