Hoping to shrink the glut of low-risk federal inmates consuming tax dollars in prison, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is about to unveil a post-sentencing reform bill that would allow drug offenders and others to earn early release into halfway houses, home confinement, and ankle-bracelet monitoring, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. He insists the program — vetted by the Heritage Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union — would reduce recidivism, lower crime rates and rein in spending on the federal prison system.
“There's some really good work being done by states that we ought to learn from,” Chaffetz told the Tribune editorial board. “It's a financial imperative, it's a moral imperative — it just makes a lot of sense.” Chaffetz says the challenge is assuring the political right the measure isn't soft on crime, while convincing the left it goes far enough — short of unwinding mandatory minimum sentences. “The risk, if there is with this, is the over-simplification,” the congressman said, bemoaning bumper-sticker politics. “It does take some explanation. It does take an adult conversation to say, 'folks, we can do this.' ” The proposal marks a pivot for Chaffetz, whose more partisan turns with conservative media include talk of impeaching President Obama over recent investigations, including the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.