Grassley, Durbin: Sentencing Reform Necessary For Senate Consideration Of Criminal Justice Reform

WASHINGTON—Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today expressed optimism for continued consideration of criminal justice reform proposals, but warned that inclusion of key sentencing reforms is necessary to win Senate approval: 

“We are encouraged to see our House colleagues continue a serious discussion about necessary reforms to our nation’s criminal justice system. However, as we move forward, reforms to federal sentencing laws must be a central part of this discussion. Such reforms, in combination with prison reform, will not only improve fairness in sentencing of low-level, nonviolent offenders, but also help law enforcement and the American taxpayer. The broadly bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act includes provisions to target limited law enforcement resources on violent offenders, major drug traffickers and criminal masterminds, and help to pay for costly, but effective, recidivism reduction programs. Over time, sentencing reform, coupled with reentry programs, can help to reduce crime, shrink the prison population and cut the deficit.

“For any criminal justice reform proposal to win approval in the Senate, it must include these sentencing reforms to prison sentencing. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, has the bipartisan support of more than a quarter of the Senate and has already been approved by the Judiciary Committee,” Grassley and Durbin said.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act empowers law enforcement and judges to refocus limited resources on violent and career criminals, and ensures that consequences for low-level offenses fit the crime. It reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent offenses while preserving maximum penalties for dangerous criminals. It incentivizes cooperation with law enforcement investigations by giving judges more discretion to lower sentences if criminals cooperate with police. It also establishes new mandatory penalties to fight the opioid crisis, terrorism and crimes of domestic violence. Additionally, the bill includes recidivism reduction programs to prepare low-risk inmates to return to society.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is based on state-level comprehensive criminal justice reforms that have reduced crime, incarceration and the taxpayer burden in states across the country. It is cosponsored by more than a quarter of the Senate, evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, and enjoys bipartisan support from stakeholders and advocates from across the political spectrum.