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Home-State Paper Urges Cruz To Support Sentencing-Reform Bill

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 […]


For Sentencing Reform Bill To Pass, Cornyn Must Convince GOP Colleagues

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a former judge and attorney general, is a devoted believer in the pending federal sentencing overhaul bill. Now, reports the New York Times, he just has to convert doubting Republican colleagues. Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican and a main author of the legislation, which would cut some sentences and ease re-entry after prison, is working to address fears from fellow Republicans that passage of the bill could set loose some dangerous offenders and diminish […]


Poor Medical Care Cited For 25 Who Died In U.S. Lockups For Immigrants

Three private companies run 11 immigrant-only contract prisons for the federal government: five by the GEO Group, four by the Corrections Corporation of America, and two by Management & Training Corporation. Repeated federal audits and reports have found these facilities to be in crisis, The Nation reports. “These prisons operate without the same systems of accountability as regular Bureau of Prisons facilities, and prisoners suffer,” said Carl Takei, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who co-authored a 2014 report documenting […]


Expert Panel Urges Overhaul Of Bloated Federal Prison System

A task force of experts commissioned by Congress called today for a makeover of the federal prison system, from the sentencing of defendants to the treatment of inmates once they get out. The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, completing a year-long study, contended its recommendations would  result in safely dropping the number of federal inmates by 60,000, and save $5 billion. The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) now runs the nation’s largest prison system, with 196,352 inmates, of whom […]


Federal Prison Bureau Refuses ‘Compassionate Release’ For Inmate, 94

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has refused to grant a “compassionate release” from prison to 94-year-old Carlos Tapia-Ponce, one of the oldest federal inmates. He is serving a life sentence for managing a warehouse that was the site of what to this day remains the largest cocaine seizure in history, writes Nat Hentoff for the Cato Institute. Ellen Lake, an Oakland, Ca., attorney who is seeking Tapia-Ponce’s release, didn’t expect the “stubborn resistance she encountered as she tried to pursue […]


GOP Split Threatens Federal Sentencing Reform; Cruz Opposition A Key

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) faces pressure to tackle an overhaul of the federal sentencing system, but deep dissension within his own party between pro-reform Republicans and law-and-order types is threatening one of the few items on the congressional agenda with a real chance of becoming law this year, Politico reports. Criminal justice legislation is backed by the two top vote-counters of each party in the Senate and a right-left coalition. It was bolstered by a presidential shout-out in […]


Pardon Attorney Quits; DOJ Vows Expanded Office Will Tackle Backlog

The Justice Department official overseeing President Obama’s drive to commute the sentences of drug offenders serving long prison terms is resigning, Politico reports. Pardon Attorney Deborah Leff took the job in April 2014. Under Leff’s tenure, the pace of commutations has picked up significantly. A backlog of clemency applications also has mushroomed under an initiative to encourage commutation applications from federal drug prisoners who had served more than ten years behind bars and met other criteria. As of the end […]


Bipartisan Colson Task Force May Urge Broader Federal Sentencing Reform

A bipartisan task force Congress created two years ago to examine the federal prison system will soon issue recommendations that could shake up the debate on federal sentencing, reports the Huffington Post. “They aspired to be bold,” said Nancy La Vigne of The Urban Institute, the lead staffer for the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. The group operated on the principle that public safety was more important than hitting any particular target for cutting the prison population, La […]


High Court Review Of Armed Career Criminal Law Could Lead To Inmate Release

Taking a case that Scotusblog says could lead to the release of hundreds of prison inmates, the Supreme Court agreed to consider extending to earlier, closed cases its ruling last June limiting prison terms under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. The U.S. Justice Department believes that the ruling should apply retroactively. Defense lawyers say that at least hundreds of inmates have already served the maximum sentence that would now be allowed under the June ruling but remain in prison […]