For more than a year, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) has been working to fix the way the government decides who goes to federal prison, how long they stay, and what happens when they get out. Working with liberals and conservatives, he's gambling that a deeply divided Washington can accomplish big things, even in an election year, says the Dallas Morning News in an editorial. Twenty-eight senators from both parties have co-sponsored a bill that would adopt reforms already tested in Texas, Georgia and other states known for being tough on crime. The reforms would reduce the prison population, save taxpayers enormous sums, and make our society both safer and more just.
The bill is now in doubt because of opposition from Cornyn’s fellow senator, Ted Cruz (R-TX). The Morning News urges Cruz “to spare a moment from his busy race for president to reconsider his opposition. Last February, he called for reducing tens of thousands of sentences each year. ‘Young people make mistakes, he said, ‘and we should not live in a world of Les Miserables, where a young man finds his entire future taken away by excessive mandatory minimums.’ ” He was right then, and he could be right again, says the Morning News. Cruz dropped his support for the bill because it would apply in some cases retroactively. But why shouldn't it?, the newspaper asks. Any changes would apply to only a relative handful of inmates, most of whom are in prison for nonviolent offenses. Prosecutors would be allowed to object, and no one would be released without a hearing before a federal judge.