Law enforcement officials stump for criminal justice bill
© Getty Images

Dozens of current and former law enforcement officials are pushing lawmakers to quickly pass a wide-ranging criminal justice reform bill.  

The group is sending a letter Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo end sugar subsidies, conservatives can't launch a frontal attack House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations MORE (D-Nev.), House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging them to back a bipartisan Senate bill. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"We urge Congress to act swiftly to reform federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. In particular, we urge Congress to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which makes modest but important reforms to federal mandatory minimums," the 72 officials — which include New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and B. Todd Jones, the former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — wrote in the letter
 
The bipartisan Senate legislation, which passed out of the Judiciary Committee late last year, would reduce minimum sentences for some non-violent drug offenders while increasing mandatory minimums in other areas. 
 
The letter is the latest sign of outside groups weighing in on the legislation. 
 
A group of 67 former federal prosecutors urged Congress to back the legislation in a separate letter earlier Tuesday. Meanwhile, 40 former federal law enforcement officials have expressed concerns about the bill's changes to mandatory sentences for certain firearm offenses and armed career criminals.
 
The officials are also using Wednesday's letter to urge lawmakers to "more broadly" take "strong action" on overhauling the criminal justice reform system. 
 
They argue that reducing minimum sentences is necessary to reduce incarceration rates in U.S. prisons and to help keep crime rates low. 
 
"We know from our experience as leaders in law enforcement that we can reduce crime and punish offenders appropriately without relying on these excessive and arbitrary laws," they wrote in the letter.
 
Senators on both sides of the aisle, as well as the Obama administration, are hoping to get legislation through Congress by the end of the year. 
 
While leadership has not said when they would bring the legislation to the floor, McConnell told Yahoo News that "there may well be action on the criminal justice front."
 
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation MORE (R-Texas) said last year that he hoped the Senate could take up the bill in early 2016 but told reporters last week that senators had "more work to do" before a floor vote.