Brookings Institute: “The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) sailed out of the Judiciary Committee last fall, with the full-throated support of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Committee Chairman and Ranking Member. At the end of last month, proponents breathed new life into the bill, announcing revisions to certain sentencing provisions and the support of six additional senators—two Republicans and four Democrats—and the influential National District Attorney Association. Largely absent from the national conversation, however, are the bill’s extensive provisions to reduce recidivism and promote successful prisoner re-entry.”
The bill calls for the Bureau of Prisons to make recidivism reduction programming available to eligible prisoners, based on each prisoner’s calculated recidivism risk.
The prospects for reform depend principally on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who must balance the efficacy of the bill with attempts to retain a GOP majority in 2016.
“On the one hand, the criminal justice reform bill could showcase Republicans’ ability to enact sweeping statutory change on an issue that voters generally support. A recent poll conducted by the Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, for instance, indicates that voters across demographic groups and party lines strongly support an array of significant changes to federal criminal justice laws, especially those pertaining to drug offenses… On the other hand, McConnell is unlikely to bring a measure to the floor if it would further fragment a fragile GOP majority, and the bill has hardly been uncontroversial.”
Even more complicating for any GOP-led reform effort is the position of the party’s nominee, since, as Vox recently pointed out, there are clear signs that: “Trump is ‘tough on crime,’ and he’s surrounded himself with other people who are ‘tough on crime,’ too.”