U.S.: Senators Reintroduce Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Legislation
By Michael Bachara
Last week, the bipartisan authors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) reintroduced their comprehensive legislation to review prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars.
The legislation, spearheaded by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), improves judicial discretion at sentencing for low level offenders and helps inmates successfully reenter society, while tightening penalties for violent criminals and preserving key prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.
“Last Congress, we worked in a bipartisan manner to develop a proposal that empowers judges, saves taxpayer dollars and gives low-level, non-violent offenders another shot at rejoining the productive side of society. Since that time, we’ve been meeting with colleagues and stakeholders to improve the bill and grow support. While the political landscape in Washington has changed, the same problems presented by the current sentencing regime remain, and we will continue to work with colleagues in Congress and the administration, as well as advocates and members of the law enforcement community, to find a comprehensive solution to ensure justice for both the victims and the accused, and support law enforcement in their mission to keep our communities safe,” Senator Grassley said.
“This legislation is the product of more than five years of work on criminal justice reform,” said Senator Durbin. “It’s also the best chance in a generation to right the wrongs of a badly broken system. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on earth. Mandatory minimum sentences were once seen as a strong deterrent. In reality they have too often been unfair, fiscally irresponsible and a threat to public safety. Given tight budgets and overcrowded prison cells, our country must reform these outdated and ineffective laws that have cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. We believe this legislation would pass the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote—it’s time to get this done.”
The original SRCA was introduced by Grassley and Durbin in 2015. It passed through committee, but was ultimately blocked on the floor by law-and-order senate Republicans, including now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"We're looking forward to input from the administration" on the SRCA, Senator Grassley said. "We had the support of the Obama administration. I think we have a chance of getting the support of this administration."
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