Kirk to sign on to criminal justice reform bill

An important criminal justice reform bill has gained another Republican co-sponsor.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has endorsed the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, a spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) confirmed Tuesday. 
{mosads}Kirk is expected to formally announce his support at a press conference later Tuesday. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kirk is facing a tough reelection battle this fall with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
Criminal justice reform advocates have been trying to gain the support of some of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents. 
“We’ve been trying to pull these senators with tough reelects onto the bill,” said Holly Harris, executive director of the U.S. Justice Action Network. “Not only are these good policies, but they make for good politics.”
A total of 16 Republicans now support the legislation, which has been tied up in negotiations for months. It also has 15 Democratic co-sponsors.
Senators including Lee and the bill’s lead sponsor, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), have been working on changes to win over conservatives, who fear the bill will increase crime rates.
Lawmakers are said to be looking at cutting the provision that reduces mandatory minimum sentences for armed career criminals from 15 years to 10 and adding language to block those convicted of violent, armed criminal offenses from being able to retroactively reduce their sentences.
The Lee spokesman said the Utah Republican would not be announcing any of the changes Tuesday.
“Our Senate allies are not ready to unveil the changes to the bill,” he said.
Tags Chuck Grassley Criminal justice reform Mark Kirk Mike Lee

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