Bipartisan duo offer criminal justice reform legislation

Bipartisan duo offer criminal justice reform legislation
© Greg Nash

Two members of the House are looking to rein in the size and the scope of the criminal justice system with a new bipartisan bill targeting the federal criminal code and prison system.

Reps. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottTop Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments Overnight Health Care: Judge blocks Kentucky Medicaid work requirements | Trump officials consider cuts to ObamaCare outreach | House probes HHS office in charge of migrant children Top House Dems request broad investigations into Trump immigration policy MORE (D-Va.) and Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) introduced a bill Wednesday that would reform mandatory minimum sentences, expand funding for community policing and crime prevention initiatives and increase the use of "evidence-based" sentencing alternatives such as probation.

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In a press release Wednesday, the two lawmakers say the bill will reduce crime as well as hold the federal government accountable for billions of dollars spent every year on criminal justice.

“Since 1980, Congress usurped state and local authority by putting more than 4,500 federal crimes on the books —including arbitrary mandatory minimums that in some cases throw non-violent or first-time offenders in jail, leading to a vicious cycle of recidivism,” said Lewis. 

“There are better ways to spend Americans’ tax dollars and keep our communities safe through real evidence-based initiatives that actually reduce crime by reserving costly prison space for hardened criminals."

The bill, called the Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act, is supported by a wide range of groups from the NAACP to the Tea Party group FreedomWorks. It has also been cosponsored by several lawmakers from both parties, including Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Portland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), Mia Love (R-Utah), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry MORE (D-Texas), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloMueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent Lawmakers discuss efforts to boost Latino entrepreneurship On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump suggests China is easing pressure on North Korea because of trade fight | Mulvaney taps top aide as No. 2 at consumer bureau | House Republican to offer bill to curtail Trump's trade powers MORE (R-Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGOP group hits Pennsylvania Dem over foundation donations Overnight Health Care: Trump officials want more time to reunite families | Washington braces for Supreme Court pick | Nebraska could be next state to vote on Medicaid expansion Ryan-aligned PAC launches ads touting House-passed opioid bills MORE (R-Pa.).

"The SAFE Justice Act will bring long-overdue sentencing reforms that will ensure prisons are reserved for violent and career criminals. It also proposes corrections reforms designed to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety," wrote FreedomWorks's Vice President for Legislative Affairs Jason Pye.

“I strongly commend the bipartisan efforts of Congressmen Bobby Scott and Jason Lewis to introduce the SAFE Justice Act,” added the NAACP's Washington D.C. director Hilary Shelton.