Daines, Kaine join Comprehensive Criminal Justice Overhaul Effort
WASHINGTON – Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) yesterday joined the growing, bipartisan group of senators in support of comprehensive criminal justice reforms. The two senators cosponsored the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, bringing the total number of bill sponsors to 28 senators.
The bill was introduced last October by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and favorably voted out of the judiciary committee by a sweeping vote of 16-5.
“There is a meth epidemic in Montana,” said Daines. “It is destroying families and threatening the future potential of communities. This bill will strengthen law enforcement’s ability to help fight this crisis.”
“Our country has found its way into a position where we are over-incarcerating our young men and women without taking a look at every single individual case, exploding our U.S. prison population, and undermining faith in our criminal justice system,” Kaine said. “We have to find a way to balance protecting our communities while ensuring mandatory minimums don’t unfairly punish non-violent drug offenders who could be offered successful reentry opportunities. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the product of years of bipartisan work to evaluate our criminal justice system and not only gives judges greater authority to sentence on a case-by-case basis, but initiates smart policies that will save taxpayer dollars.”
“Our reforms will improve fairness in sentencing of low-level, nonviolent offenders, help law enforcement and save American taxpayer dollars. The legislation includes provisions to target limited law enforcement resources on violent offenders, major drug traffickers and criminal masterminds, and help to pay for costly, but effective, recidivism reduction programs,” Grassley and Durbin said. “We are grateful for the support from Senator Daines and Senator Kaine, and look forward to continued work to advance front-end and back-end reforms to our criminal justice system.”
Current and former law enforcement leaders from around the United States recently called on Congress and the White House to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in a letter to congressional leaders.
The Council of Prison Locals, a group representing 33,000 federal corrections workers in the Bureau of Prisons, last week endorsed the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The group concluded their letter by saying, “Passing the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will help reduce the federal inmate populations, better concentrate already scarce resources, and take a big step in helping better protect the federal correctional workers who help keep our communities safe.”
Support for the legislation is wide-ranging, with cosponsors from disparate parts of the country and political spectrum. Here is the full list of supporters.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act empowers law enforcement and judges to refocus limited resources on violent and career criminals, and ensures that consequences for low-level offenses fit the crime. It reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent offenses while preserving maximum penalties for dangerous criminals. It incentivizes cooperation with law enforcement investigations by giving judges more discretion to lower sentences if criminals cooperate with police. It also establishes new mandatory penalties to fight the opioid crisis, terrorism and crimes of domestic violence. Additionally, the bill includes recidivism reduction programs to prepare low-risk inmates to return to society.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is based on state-level comprehensive criminal justice reforms that have reduced crime, incarceration and the taxpayer burden in states across the country. It is cosponsored by more than a quarter of the Senate, evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, and enjoys bipartisan support from stakeholders and advocates from across the political spectrum.