U.S. Senators May Announce Sentencing-Reform Plan Tomorrow


A bipartisan group of Senate Judiciary Committee members may unveil a criminal justice overhaul proposal tomorrow, NPR reports. The plan follows months of behind-the-scenes work by the staffs of Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), and others. Senior members of the Obama administration also have been nudging senators, viewing the proposal as one of the capstones of a legacy on criminal justice issues for this president. President Obama became the first sitting president to visit a prison in July. An left-right group called the Coalition for Public Safety, which includes Koch Industries, the American Civil Liberties Union and others, is said to support the goals of the proposal.

The proposal will not go so far as reform advocates may like because it would create some tough new mandatory minimum sentences. It includes previous proposals that would allow federal inmates to earn credits to leave prison early if they complete educational and treatment programs and pose a relatively low risk to public safety along with language that would give judges some more discretion when sentencing nonviolent offenders. It’s unclear whether the Senate will act on the plan before the presidential election intensifies. In the House, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), are pressing their own legislation, known as the SAFE Justice Act. The two leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and top Democrat John Conyers (MI), have said they are writing their own bills.

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