Significant reform to the criminal justice system
The United States has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world and it’s time to change the laws. (See: Salon article.) The Senate if finally acknowledging the issue and releasing low-level offenders. This will not only alleviate prisons costs, but it also help the families and the economy as a whole.
After two years of maneuvering, high-ranking Senate Republicans and Democrats on Thursday unveiled a compromise to bring significant reform to the criminal justice system through a series of sentencing and prison reforms long sought by both liberals and conservatives.
“This historic bill addresses legitimate over-incarceration concerns while targeting violent criminals and masterminds in the drug trade,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). “It’s the product of thoughtful bipartisan deliberation.”
What will the bill do?
If approved, the bill would shorten the length of mandatory sentences for repeat drug offenders and would end the federal “three strikes” mandatory life provision. It would also expand the judicial discretion “safety valve,” allowing low-level drug offenders to be sentenced to less time than currently dictated under existing mandatory terms.
The legislation does create two new mandatory minimums for crimes involving interstate domestic violence and providing weapons to terrorists. But criminal justice experts note those new requirements would impact very few criminals.
The sentencing reforms would apply retroactively, allowing inmates who were previously incarcerated under mandatory minimums that have been shortened an opportunity for release.
“This bill isn’t the full repeal of mandatory minimum sentences we ultimately need,” said Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, in a statement. “But it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices created by federal mandatory sentences.”
With so much support from senior lawmakers, including a member of the GOP Senate leadership, observers believe the compromise has a good chance of coming up for a Senate vote sometime before the end of this year.
Criminal justice reform is much needed and there are changes coming!
Read the entire article in the Washington Post.