November 16, 2018

Wall Street Journal, New York Times Praise Trump-Backed First Step Act

“Congress has a rare opening to pass criminal-justice reforms” -- WSJ
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“It’s time to put these necessary changes into action” -- NYT
 
The oft-divergent editorial boards of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have found a common cause in bipartisan legislation to reduce crime, save tax dollars and improve fairness in prison sentencing.  Both papers recently endorsed the bipartisan First Step Act, which is backed by President Trump and various law enforcement and prison reform advocates.  Both editorials call on Congress to seize a rare opportunity to enact overdue criminal justice reforms this Congress.
 
Wall Street Journal: ‘A Prison Reform Opening’
 “Don’t faint from surprise, but many Democrats and Republicans agree on fixing some of the harder edges of the criminal-justice system. A bipartisan proposal would correct some unfair federal sentencing practices, and Congress should grab the chance.”
“The main point of the bill is to offer federal convicts a better shot at returning to life as productive members of society, as most won’t be in prison for life. The bill would open more opportunities for education or job training. Certain prisoners could earn good-behavior credits that would allow them to, say, move to a halfway house earlier. This is distinct from shaving time off a sentence. Fentanyl kingpins, terrorists and the most violent felons wouldn’t be eligible for credits.”
“Long overdue is fixing mandatory sentences that have produced some outrageous results.”
“Passing these discrete measures would make it easier for Congress to build later on what works. Such incremental progress used to be standard procedure in Congress, and both parties now have a moment to put aside political cynicism and pass something that could improve American justice.”
 
 
 
“In this early test, the president is signaling that he indeed wants to make progress on critical issues that enjoy broad support. Lawmakers from both parties should follow suit.”
“Further fueling optimism about the legislation’s future, last week the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement in support of the bill, specifically endorsing its sentencing reforms. This is a significant shift from February, when the group sent Mr. Trump a letter opposing previous sentencing reform efforts.”
“Republicans have a clear incentive to act now, before they lose control of the House. And if Democrats resist the temptation to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, they can seize this opening to make progress on an enduringly vexing challenge.”
 

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