In his new reform plan “Expanding Opportunity in America,” U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) focuses a chapter on criminal justice reforms, says the Sentencing Law and Policy blog. Ryan says that sentencing reform on the federal level could encourage state and local governments to follow the example. The punishment should fit the crime, but in many cases the punishment of incarceration extends beyond prison time, Ryan says.
Among reforms Ryan backs: Granting judges more flexibility within mandatory-minimum guidelines when sentencing non-violent drug offenders; implementing a risk- and needs-assessment system in federal prisons while expanding enrollment in rehabilitative programming to reduce recidivism; allowing non-violent and low-risk inmates to use enrollment to earn time off their prison stay towards prerelease custody. Reforms, Ryan says, “would give judges the discretion they need to prevent nonviolent offenders from serving unreasonably long sentences; they would align inmates' incentives to help reduce recidivism; and they would partner with states and community groups to expand their life-affirming work.”