Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) offered a grim assessment of federal sentencing reform’s chances this year to a group of young African-American activists this week, but told them he’s gotten a pledge from Hillary Clinton to push aggressively on the issue if she wins in November, Politico reports. Supporters of the criminal-justice reform package are counting on the House to pass the measure this month, offering momentum for a lame-duck vote in the Senate. With Donald Trump promoting a “law and order” message, Republicans are increasingly skittish about looking soft on crime. The left is starting to shift some of its focus toward trying again for a more aggressive bill next year, under potentially better political circumstances.
Booker said the compromise Democrats hashed out with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has a “20 percent chance of passing this Congress. Maybe even lower.”
The bill would cut mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug offenders, with retroactive changes that would reduce existing sentences for those deemed nonviolent, and give judges more flexibility to tailor punishments. Booker urged activists from Black Youth Project 100 and the National Black Justice Coalition to help build support for more changes to sentencing laws. They pressed Booker to try to get rid of the new mandatory minimums for some crimes, including domestic violence and transporting weapons of mass destruction, in the current package.