Former federal prosecutors push for vote on criminal justice reform

A group of former federal prosecutors and government officials are calling on Senate leaders to bring Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate begins preparations for Trump trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Appeals court skeptical of Trump rule on TV drug ads MORE’s (R-Iowa) criminal justice reform bill to the floor for a vote.

“We endorse this bill because it makes some of the most needed improvements to the front and back ends of the federal criminal justice system,” the group said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Democrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial Left presses 2020 Democrats to retake the courts from Trump MORE (D-N.V.). 

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Grassley's bill, which has 28 co-sponsors including 13 Republicans, would target mandatory minimum sentences to high-level drug traffickers and violent criminals. It would also give prosecutors new tools to target violent criminals with new penalties.

The letter was signed by 67 people, including former FBI directors Louis Freeh and William Sessions; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under President George W Bush; and several former U.S. attorneys and federal judges.

It follows a separate letter from 40 former federal law enforcement officials that expressed concerns about the bill's changes to mandatory sentences for certain firearm offenses and armed career criminals.

The letter from the prosecutors casts the changes as moving sentencing reform in a positive direction, and emphasizes the fact that it will not eliminate all mandatory minimum sentences.

“And it is important to note that applying these reforms retroactively will not eliminate all mandatory minimum sentences these offenders are subject to, or any additional penalties the judges previously imposed," the letter said. 

 
In October, Cornyn talked to McConnell about the possibility of moving criminal justice reform. 
 
"Several of us made a pitch to him that if he wants a good bipartisan bill that the president will sign, that's a good candidate," he told reporters at the time.

The letter comes a week after Obama's State of the Union address, in which he said he hoped to work with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record The TRUST Act is a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors MORE (R-Ohio) on criminal justice reform legislation. A similar sentencing reform bill is also waiting for a floor vote in House.