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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 ScottVirginia attorney general survives primary challenge OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps program: exclusive 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 ConyersCalifornia comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), Mia Love (R-Utah), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeHouse approves Juneteenth holiday, sends bill to Biden's desk Black Democrats press leaders for reparations vote this month Simmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over MORE (D-Texas), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloCheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women House Democrats call on Republicans to return Marjorie Taylor Greene donation Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE (R-Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickFitness industry group hires new CEO amid lobbying push House moderates unveil .25T infrastructure plan OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps 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.