Friday, June 26, 2015

The House may be ready for major, bipartisan criminal justice reforms

The bipartisan movement for criminal justice reform has been growing and gaining momentum for nearly a decade, with dozens of states cutting prison sentences and adopting "data-driven" rehabilitation policies. Now a group of members of the House of Representatives is trying to get Congress to follow the states' lead, with a bill called the Safe Justice Act — which bundles together a lot of relatively small reforms into a package that could reduce the federal prison population significantly.

Over the past couple of years, momentum on criminal justice reform has been in the Senate, which has considered bills such as the Smarter Sentencing Act (to cut congressionally mandated minimum sentences) and the Corrections Act (to allow some inmates to earn time off their sentences while in prison). The Safe Justice Act is bigger than either of those bills — it includes variations on both of them, as well as a lot of other things — but it's also a little more politically cautious. And criminal justice reformers on both the left and the right are extremely excited about it.


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