Bipartisan Senate Justice Reform Will Improve Public Safety

maria Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the criminal justice system, and its national partners, applauded the reintroduction of the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act as an important step forward in fixing our broken system. This legislation, reintroduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), prioritizes public safety by ensuring the punishment fits the crime and focuses taxpayer resources on those who pose the greatest risk to our communities. The bill also includes important recidivism reduction programming that will help ensure those who leave prison do not commit new crimes.

Holly Harris, Executive Director, Justice Action Network:

“We thank Sens. Grassley and Durbin, and their colleagues, who are offering real solutions to fix our broken justice system. Over 30 states – both red and blue – have implemented similar sentencing and corrections reforms, and these states have subsequently seen lower crime and recidivism rates. If Congress truly wants to be tough on crime, then it will follow the footprints of our laboratories of democracy, and move this legislation through committee and to a floor vote as soon as possible. After all, this is the one bill that we know has the votes to pass the United States Senate today.”

Here’s what the right and the left have to say:

Sens. Grassley, Durbin, Lee, and Whitehouse: 

“Crafted by Republican and Democratic leaders, this legislation aims to safely and sensibly reduce excessive sentences. It recalibrates prison sentences for certain drug offenders and gives judges greater sentencing flexibility while keeping stiff penalties in place for violent criminals. The bill preserves important law enforcement tools to take down large criminal organizations while expanding outlets to shield low-level nonviolent offenders from lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences. It eliminates mandatory life sentences for three-strike drug offenders and gives judges authority to retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between offenses involving crack and powder cocaine. The bill also includes “back end” reforms to curb recidivism by helping inmates successfully re-enter society.”

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: 

“For over 40 years, the costly and racially discriminatory ‘War on Drugs’ has devastated communities of color and low-income communities, and failed to improve public safety. Reforming our justice system and ending mass incarceration is one of the most important civil and human rights issues of our time. We applaud Senators Grassley and Durbin for reintroducing bipartisan legislation that is a good step to reform this unjust system, reduce the costs of incarceration, and make our system more fair. We look forward to swift consideration of this vital legislation.”

Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Freedomworks: 

“It’s great to see the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act reintroduced. These modest but important reforms echo what has been done in states like Georgia and Texas to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety. We look forward to working with Chairman Grassley, Sen. Lee and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to continue to advance smart on crime policies in the 115th Congress.”

Jesselyn McCurdy, Deputy Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office: 

“This legislation is a good first step to desperately needed criminal justice reform in the federal system. By applying smart on crime reforms retroactively to those in federal prisons and reducing life without parole sentences these reforms will help address the racial disparities and inequity in our current justice system. We urge the Senate to pass this bipartisan bill swiftly.”

Ed Chung, Vice President for Criminal Justice Reform, Center for American Progress:

“The Center for American Progress welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan, smart on crime reforms proposed by Sens. Grassley and Durbin and applaud their effort to take a comprehensive approach to reforming our justice system by working to fix both sentencing and correction policies. The status quo is not working. We need to improve our country’s broken justice system, and the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is a significant step in that direction.” 

The American Conservative Union: 

“States have led the charge on these reforms, and the results are undeniable: shrinking prison populations, smaller corrections budgets and crime rates that are falling faster than in the states that have not adopted similar common sense reforms. Now it’s time for the elected officials in Washington to do their job by passing their own reforms to our Criminal Justice system in areas where only Congress can affect change. ACU strongly supports the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017 and we urge the Senate to support the legislation and work towards bringing more conservatives on board and embrace Criminal Justice reform.”

Hilary Shelton, Director of the Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, NAACP: 

“The NAACP is pleased to see members of the United States Senate, Senators Grassley and Durbin and others, challenge the problematic federal criminal justice code, and specifically the sentencing aspects which have needlessly ruined so many lives and unnecessarily cost the taxpayers billions of dollars locking up offenders who are not a threat to society.”