Senators Finally Offer Justice Bill

Senators Finally Offer Justice Bill

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Though the details have been kept secret until a press conference today, members of the Senate led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are planning to announce new justice reform legislation today.  There are reports of new mandatory minimums in the bill — if that’s true it’s likely the result of a request by Grassley.

American continues to lead the world in the rate of incarceration with over two million people behind bars.  Several studies have shown that mandatory minimum sentences are a leading reason. Political forces on the right and left from liberal House members to the Koch Brothers are pushing for change.

The long awaited and long talked about Senate bill is said to incorporate the Corrections Act authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and other legislation.  But Senators and staff were tight lipped on the details.  It is not yet known if actual bill language will be released today.

Some who are familiar with the negotiations on the Senate side say the Senate’s legislation will be less comprehensive than the SAFE Justice Act offered on the House side by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) in July. This week it was learned that the SAFE Justice Act has 23 House Republicans and 23 House Democrats as co-sponsors for a total of 46 members, more than any other justice bill in Congress.

A bill has yet to be offered by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and ranking member John Conyers (D-MI) although a press release sent out in August by their offices claimed they would offer a justice bill in September.  It is unknown why House Democrats Conyers and Crime Committee ranking Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee are not supporting the SAFE Justice Act.

The NAACP, FAMM and ACLU are in support of the legislation.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Twitter: @LVBurke / Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist who analyses politics and justice reform. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke has also been a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears weekly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin. She has also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and Up with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. She is also a contributing writer for NBCNews.com and TheRoot.com Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail: LBurke007@gmail.com. Instagram: LVB325.

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