House panel eyes criminal justice overhaul

House panel eyes criminal justice overhaul
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The House Judiciary Committee is planning a wide-ranging review of the nation’s criminal justice system, against the backdrop of heightened national tensions around violence involving police.

Starting with a listening session later this month, the committee will begin exploring reforms to the nation’s sentencing laws, prisons, criminal procedures and policing strategies, in a process that lawmakers expect could last for months.

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“The goal of the committee’s initiative is to produce strong, bipartisan legislation so that the criminal justice system better reflects core American values and works for America,” Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end MORE (R-Va.) and top Democrat John ConyersJohn James ConyersDemocrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill Virginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message Women's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC MORE (Mich.) said in a joint statement announcing the plan on Wednesday.

In the June 25 listening session, any member of the panel will be able to present a proposal to reform some portion of the nation’s criminal justice system. That will get the ball rolling, lawmakers said, for the broader review in coming months.  

The effort comes amid heightened scrutiny on the nation’s police officers following a string of violence involving cops, as well as new focus on sentencing reform. Lawmakers including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — a presidential candidate — have championed the need to reform sentencing laws, which critics say are too harsh and unfairly skewed towards impacting poor and minority families.

Incidents involving police officers have captured national attention in recent months. On Tuesday, a Texas police officer who drew his gun on unarmed teenagers at a pool party resigned from his job.

The Judiciary Committee had highlighted criminal justice issues last year and held a dozen hearing on the justice system. The process failed to produce any sweeping legislation.