Will Criminal Justice Reform Reappear on Congressional Agenda?

In 2016, advocates of major reforms in criminal sentencing thought a rare bipartisan deal might bring dramatic reforms to light. That possibility fizzled out, but may be put back into play this year by two US Senate sponsors.

The changed landscape with a new Executive Administration, and a new tone from the US Department of Justice, has left reform supporters unclear of the next steps for the issue.

According to Reason, a libertarian-leaning news and information site, the bill’s two sponsors intend to reintroduce it this year:

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, originally introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) and Dick Durbin (D-Il.) in 2015, would reduce the mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines for repeat drug offenders without serious violent felonies and would broaden the “safety valve” exception to federal mandatory minimum sentences. It would also add new mandatory minimum sentences for interstate domestic abuse and for providing support for terrorists, while strengthening penalties for certain other crimes.

Grassley and Durbin say they will reintroduce the bill this year, although they did not say when.

“While the political landscape in Washington has changed, the same problems presented by the current sentencing regime remain,” Grassley said in a statement, “and we will continue to work with colleagues in Congress and the administration, as well as advocates and members of the law enforcement community, to find a comprehensive solution to ensure justice for both the victims and the accused, and support law enforcement in their mission to keep our communities safe.”

Read more on the Reason blog.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties