Proponents of criminal justice reform view new Speaker Paul Ryan as an ally, and see his ascension as a boost to the bipartisan push to overhaul decades-old sentencing and drug laws.
Lawmakers and advocates pushing reform legislation base their optimism on Ryan’s past proposals, the signals he has sent about the way he plans to run the House — and even the Wisconsin Republican’s age.
Members of both the House and the Senate told The Hill they believe Ryan’s election last week will help smooth legislation now pending before both chambers.
“It helps,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “I think he’s sensitive to the issue and would be willing to look at sensible reform.”
Ryan included criminal justice and sentencing reforms in a sweeping anti-poverty plan he penned in 2014, when he served as chairman of the House Budget Committee. The proposal called for more flexibility within mandatory minimum guidelines judges use when sentencing non-violent drug offenders and for federal assistance in helping inmates re-enter society.