U.S. Senate Bills On Criminal Justice Accumulate, Talks Start On Sentencing


U.S. senators' plans for an overhaul of the criminal justice system are piling up in the Judiciary Committee, and the latest spate of officer-involved tragedies could give them a boost, reports Roll Call. One bill seeks to review the entire criminal justice system, while another approved last month addresses recidivism; and a subcommittee is set to review body cameras for police officers. Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) is focused for now on sentencing issues. Grassley said he's agreed to meet with colleagues and the White House to discuss changing laws on mandatory minimum sentences, and staff talks on the issue have begun. Majority Whip John Cornyn said on the Senate floor last week that some attempts at “comprehensive” legislation have led to mistakes, but the Texas Republican has taken an active role in sponsorship and promotion of several bills aimed at the issue.

Freshman Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), joined by Cornyn and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), are calling for a 14-member commission of presidential and congressional appointees to review the entire criminal justice system, going beyond the presidential policing task force that offered recommendations in March. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is working on a bill to overhaul federal allocation of resources to local law enforcement. The Judiciary Committee has approved a bill by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) aiming to reduce recidivism by expanding services for, and improving responses to, those in the criminal justice system with mental health issues. A Judiciary subcommittee will soon hold a hearing on equipping police departments with body cameras at the request of Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).

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