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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 ScottDems want to hold officials’ feet to the fire on ObamaCare Healthy business vs healthy people — how will this administration address the two? Washington turns focus to child nutrition 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 ConyersFormer campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Kavanaugh controversy has led to politicization of 'Me Too,' says analyst Sexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), Mia Love (R-Utah), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeGOP senator says wife received video of beheading after Kavanaugh vote Former Dem aide makes first court appearance on charges of posting GOP senators' info online Ex-House intern charged with 'doxing' GOP senators during Kavanaugh hearing MORE (D-Texas), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDems see blue 'tsunami' in House as Senate path narrows GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (R-Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGroup begins 'Nuns on the Bus' tour to protest Trump tax law ahead of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Historic vote on Kavanaugh to come amid protests, anger Dems announce third-quarter fundraising bonanza 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.