Friday, July 31, 2015

The rush for criminal justice reform

It wasn’t long ago that any Democratic talk about criminal-injustice reforms would be met with immediate, knee-jerk talking points about “soft-on-crime” liberals who want to “coddle” criminals, reported the MSNBC.  Last month, however, as Rachel noted on the show, even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he “absolutely” supports bipartisan reforms.
“We’ve got a lot of people in prison, frankly, that don’t really in my view need to be there,” the Republican leader told reporters, pleasantly surprising reform proponents. “It’s expensive to house. Some of these people are in there for what I’ll call flimsy reasons.”
The New York Times reported yesterday that the winds of change have shifted in a way that makes real progress possible for the first time in at least a generation.
…Congress seems poised to revise four decades of federal policy that greatly expanded the number of Americans – to roughly 750 per 100,000 – now incarcerated, by far the highest of any Western nation.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has long resisted changes to federal sentencing laws, said he expected to have a bipartisan bill ready before the August recess.
The details of Grassley’s bill are not yet available, but the fact that the effort is moving forward at all is an amazing development.
In 2015, the two major parties agree on practically nothing, but criminal-injustice reforms, of all things, have just the right combination of proponents to break through.
“This is a cause that’s bringing people in both houses of Congress together,” Obama told the NAACP. “It’s created some unlikely bedfellows. You’ve got Van Jones and Newt Gingrich.  You’ve got Americans for Tax Reform and the ACLU.  You’ve got the NAACP and the Koch brothers…. That’s good news.”
It is, indeed. For the left, the current system is destroying communities, hurting families, and ending opportunities for Americans who deserve a chance to succeed. For the right, the status quo is an expensive, inefficient mess.
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