Hatch wants additions to sentencing reform bill

Hatch wants additions to sentencing reform bill
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Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDACA remains in place, but Dreamers still in limbo Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah) is pushing for additional reforms to be included in bipartisan legislation to update federal sentencing laws.

Hatch used a Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the legislation on Thursday to call for "mens rea" reform. Such reforms would combat overcrowding of prisons by making sure that people are not sentenced for crimes they did not know they were committing. 

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Mens rea is the Latin legal term to describe the mental state a person must have been in while committing a crime to be found guilty.

Hatch has repeatedly brought up the issue and said mens rea must be part of the larger criminal reform. He said he could not support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 without it.

“Here in the Senate we’ve lost our focus and allowed the entire enterprise to become about sentencing,” he said during the committee meeting.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources MORE (D-Ill.) said no bill to reform mes rea has ever been introduced, adding that changing the law now could be difficult. 

"This bill has been before Congress for two years," he said. “To bring up another issue that has never been brought up before … I think is an unfair standard to hold us to."

The legislation under consideration would reduce certain mandatory minimum prison sentences and give judges more discretion to determine appropriate punishments, and increase mandatory minimum sentences in other areas such as domestic violence.