Congress

Senate Passes White House-Backed Criminal Justice Bill by Wide Margin

After weeks of work from advocates and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, the Senate voted to pass the FIRST STEP Act.

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LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS/Newscom

The Senate passed a major criminal justice bill, the FIRST STEP Act, by a vote of 87-12 Tuesday night.

The bill still must go to the House, which passed a different version of the bill in May, but today's vote was an emotional victory for advocacy organizations and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have worked for years, with little success, to shepherd a criminal justice bill to the Senate floor. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) hugged each other as the final votes rolled in.

Getting to that point required unending back-and-forth negotiation, numerous rewrites, rallies in the sweltering D.C. summer heat, convincing the notoriously flighty president to back the bill, and then convincing Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to put it on the Senate schedule—not to mention holding together a coalition of liberal, conservative, and evangelical groups.

"Historic" and "once-in-a-generation," senators called the White House-backed bill.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a former opponent of criminal justice reform who became one of the chief authors of the bill, said in a statement that its passage was "an important victory in our years-long effort, which has resulted in a broad bipartisan recognition of the need for reforms."

In reality, the FIRST STEP Act is large but modest, and filled with numerous exceptions to gain the backing of law enforcement organizations, whose support was critical in gaining Trump's endorsement. The bill would expand reentry and job training opportunities for federal inmates, ban the shackling of pregnant inmates, and require inmates to be housed within 500 miles of their families, when possible.

It also includes four changes to federal sentencing law that would reduce some mandatory minimum sentences, expand judges' discretion under the so-called safety valve, and make the reductions to crack cocaine sentences under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 apply retroactively to current inmates.

Among some Senate Republicans, though, the bill was radical, and so it seemed somewhat miraculous when McConnell voted to retroactively reduce the sentences of an estimated 3,000 federal inmates serving time for crack cocaine offenses.

Senate Democrats unanimously voted for the FIRST STEP Act, including progressives such as Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Left-leaning groups have been skeptical of the bill, and many opposed the House version, which lacked any sentencing reforms. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ultimately endorsed the Senate version.

"We applaud the bipartisan group of Senators who were willing to listen to advocates and include important sentencing reforms that will grant thousands of currently incarcerated people a second chance," Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU deputy legislative director, said in a statement. "People's lives are at stake."

The main threat to the bill came from Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), a staunch supporter of mandatory minimum sentences who called the bill a "jailbreak."

"A number of serious felonies, including violent crimes, are still eligible for early release in the version of the bill the Senate will vote on in a matter of days," Cotton wrote in a National Review op-ed Monday. "In short, the First Step Act flunks their basic test to protect public safety."

Cotton and Sen. John Kennedy (R–La.) introduced three amendments that critics said would gut the legislation. Those amendments would have excluded wide categories of felons from being eligible for the bill's provisions.

"Rather than try and fix [laws] we're going to give almost unfettered discretion to the bureaucrats and the Bureau of Prisons to fix our mistakes," Kennedy said on the Senate floor. "It's like putting paint on rotten wood."

Another amendment introduced by Cotton and Kennedy would have required wardens to notify crime victims when an inmate received credit toward an earlier release under the bill's provisions.

However, several victims rights groups opposed the amendment, saying it didn't allow victims to opt out of being notified.

"This proposed amendment would notify all survivors, whether they choose to be notified or not," the group Fairness, Dignity & Respect for Crime Victims & Survivors Project said in a statement. "This takes away the victim's autonomy to choose to remain informed and notified, and autonomy is a key tenet of trauma-informed victim/survivor assistance."

Cotton's insistence on introducing an amendments angered criminal justice advocacy groups, who have repeatedly accused him of negotiating in bad faith to kill the bill.

Those groups, such as Freedom Works, American For Prosperity, the ACLU, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, went on a lobbying blitz Monday to urge senators to vote down the Cotton and Kennedy amendments.

All three amendments failed by wide margins.

"Thanks to an unwavering bipartisan supermajority in the Senate, the First Step Act is one step closer to becoming law," Mark Holden, the general counsel of Koch Industries, said in a statement. "We thank each Senator who did the right thing for our country by passing the bill without the amendments intended to undermine it."

The House must now quickly take up the bill during the remaining time in the lame duck session. House speaker Paul Ryan tweeted his support for the bill shortly after the Senate passage: "Criminal justice reform is about giving more Americans a chance at redemption," he wrote. "The House looks forward to sending it to the president to become law."

The headline and text of this article have been updated to reflect the passage of the FIRST STEP Act.

NEXT: Freeing Your Kids (and Yourself) in the 21st Century with Lenore Skenazy

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  1. “shackling of pregnant inmates”

    Pics?

    1. To be fair, this rarely happens (the BOP is at least sensitive to the potential lawsuits), but ending it completely is likely to cause more problems (if you were pregnant and shackled, there is usually a reason why).

      1. No prison guard wants to be the person who let an inmate escape. They tend to default to maximum chains.

        I have had seen inmates shackled inside a jail holding cell waiting for his attorney. This was not a violent offender and the charge was a misdemeanor.

        People dont realize that modern jail facilities are built based on the assumption that all inmates are worse than they actually are. There is little difference between minimum security and maximum security areas. The big difference is that some maximum security houses all inmates separately in single cells rather than a dorm environment.

        1. Likewise, no guard wants to be at the center of an investigation where a baby dies. Having someone escape just means you are out of a job. Having someone die is playing the odds you will be wearing khaki as well.

          Custody level is determined well beyond the guard as is usually commiserate with the past history of violence/escape, with some medical exemptions. Not to mention female prisoners are often treated with kid gloves regardless.

          All this is likely to do is to allow prisons a free pass to deny medical care, as there is no means transport without risk to the public.

  2. This would be a great start on reform. If only we could end drug prohibition and release all prisoners with only drug offenses and/or other minor non-violent crimes. While we’re at it lets repeal all other vice laws like sex work and gambling prohibitions.

    1. ^^This^^

      And expunge all criminal records for non-violent drug offenses as well, so folks can get a job.

      1. I agree with this, but I also agree with Ben Sasse that this opens up a big loophole to release violent criminals.

        1. “I agree with this, but I also agree with Ben Sasse that this opens up a big loophole to release violent criminals.”

          Are these criminals ‘violent’ in that they were less than cooperative in being busted for selling some dope? Inquiring minds want to know.

          1. Don’t know details of this reform, but there may well be issues with letting violent criminals out.

            Frankly, even if somebody is getting busted initially for slingin’ weed… If they go and assault a cop, it still shows they have violent tendencies. I know people who got busted for selling drugs… None of them assaulted the cops when it happened.

            Not saying there aren’t going to be bunk charges mixed in there too… But separating the wheat from the chaff isn’t always easy.

            1. vek|12.18.18 @ 11:14PM|#
              “Don’t know details of this reform, but there may well be issues with letting violent criminals out.
              […]
              Not saying there aren’t going to be bunk charges mixed in there too… But separating the wheat from the chaff isn’t always easy.”

              OK, I thought is was an easy search and it wasn’t. But regardless of the source, the numbers seem hard to dispute:
              “The United States had the highest prison population rate in the world, at 716 per 100,000 people. More than half of the countries and territories had rates below 150 per 100,000. The United States had a much higher rate compared to other developed countries: about six times Canada’s rate, between six to nine times Western European countries, and between two to 10 times Northern European countries.”
              https://thinkprogress.org/the-united-states-
              has-the-largest-prison-population-in-the-
              world-and-its-growing-d4a35bc9652f/
              My lefty lawyer bud seems to have a point which is hard to dispute, and I’ve yet to see data suggesting it’s purely a result of stuffing black and brown kids in the slammer for selling dope.

              1. Well, I am no super expert… But a few thoughts.

                One is we DO over incarcerate people. This is known. And the rates for many crimes have gone up over the last few decades. Here is the question though: Are we locking up more people for longer WHO DESERVE IT, or not?

                Potentially keeping murderers and rapists in prison longer… To a point, I don’t have a problem with this. But if much of that rise has come from locking up people for longer for minor infractions, or victimless crimes, then that’s a problem.

                We need to ease up on the stuff where we need to ease up, and hold the line for proper criminals IMO.

                One thing nobody ever likes to talk about is that our crime rates plummeted at the same time we started locking up criminals for longer. There is a logical connection that would lead a reasonable person to think one lead to the other, given recidivism rates for many types of crime.

                Again, not an expert, and one would have to do really in depth analysis of specifics to REALLY prove anything one way or another. However it is KNOWN that we lock people up for bunk stuff. That should be fixed. But that doesn’t mean we need to go soft on real criminals while we start to be more sensible for folks who got busted selling some weed.

                1. As far as comparing us to other “industrialized” countries… The ethnic thing DOES in fact completely close the gap for many particular issues.

                  For instance, white and Asian murder rates in the USA are comparable or lower to white/Asian murder rates in Europe and Asia. The ONLY reason the US has seemingly high murder rates is because of non white/Asian people, which we have in far greater numbers than Europe or Asia.

                  In most years blacks commit ~50% of murders, but are only ~13% of the population. Hispanics ~35% of murders, ~15-16% of the population. Leaving the other ~71% of the population to commit the other 15% of murders. We’re squarely in line with Europe/Asia at those FBI numbers rates.

                  Similar disparities exist for assault, rape, burglary, etc.

                  As far as the disproportionate arrest argument, IMO the rates are because these minorities commit crimes at higher rates. Anecdotally I have seen more crime from non whites in my life than whites, and I’m part Mexican myself. I DO believe a black kid is more likely to get arrested for say a joint than a white kid… But I don’t think the cops are arbitrarily blaming murders on unsuspecting black kids. They’re just killing more people.

                  1. I bet if one parsed the numbers this would account for MOST of the disparities in prison population. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we were still a touch higher, even for white/Asian prison rates. Americans are pretty law and orderish compared to even many European nations.

                    Any which way, you throw poor 3rd world levels of crime committing (because 3rd world nations do tend to have more crime, but less enforcement) into a 1st world country that enforces laws more consistently, and you would expect to see high ass prison rates.

                    Europe is having the EXACT same shit happening now that they have more minority populations there. Blame it on whatever you like (evil white oppression, IQ differences (even if they’re not genetic, environmental hypothesis does allow for multi generational IQ suppression in theory), cultural differences, etc), but some ethnic groups do consistently commit crimes at higher rates… And in a civilized society, equal enforcement will result in disproportionate imprisonment.

                    Again, this might not explain ALL the differences… But it probably gets rid of a large portion of the differences in rates.

                    1. Per Thaddeus Russell, even if you released ALL black/brown inmates, the US prison population would rank in the top 5.

                    2. As I said, not an expert on these things across the board. If that is something somebody has figured out, then it is probably true. Keep in mind though, are you talking about TOTAL absolute numbers, or RATES? Because we’re the 3rd most populous country on earth. So we should have the 3rd highest total number of prisoners on that basis alone, all things being equal.

                      As I said above though, we definitely have a more puritanical streak than many places in Europe. Lots of things that are legal there, like prostitution, are very not legal here.

                      We may be harder on other crimes too, that seems to be a vague impression I have anyway. Does a crime (say a really bad assault) that gets somebody 5 years in prison on average in the UK get somebody 7.5 years in prison here? If so, that would put 50% more people behind bars at any given moment in time here for that crime. Small things like that might add up to a big difference, but not THAT big of a difference in “fairness” necessarily, as it might be reasonable to argue that severe assaults deserve 7.5 years on average.

                      Lots of moving parts in this issue to be sure, and some that comes down to random value judgements. How long SHOULD a rapist be in prison? I suspect you would get answers from only several years, to life, to they should be shot immediately out back. Who is right? Hard to say…

                    3. His argument was if you are approaching incarceration from race based standpoint (either the BLM cops are racist or minorities commit more crimes), you are missing the point- just with white males alone the US imprisons far more people (rate wise) than any other western country, and is more on par with North Korea or China.

                      Make of it what you will.

                    4. So? The US seems to be the 3rd most populous nation. Even if criminals were incarcerated at exactly the same rate here as elsewhere, we’d still have a “top 5” prison population due to just sheer numbers.

                2. Yeah, it’s like all we’ve got is a brightness knob when we also need a contrast knob.

                  1. QSL, okay that is what I was wondering. That must only be the case for SOME types of crimes, as white murder rates are comparable to lower than in Europe. That is one of the few issues I know about because of gun research!

                    So assuming our white imprisonment rate is higher, there could be a few causes.

                    1. We’re a wilder bunch of honkies who commit more crimes!

                    I wouldn’t be THAT surprised. We do have a more free wheeling culture in SOME ways. Americans have been given more rope to hang ourselves in some ways, but not all…

                    2. We have things that are illegal here that aren’t elsewhere.

                    Prostitution, age of consent laws being higher, drinking laws, etc. We may be doing things that are legal elsewhere, but aren’t here, hence we arrest ppl for doing the same “naughty” behavior that has no repercussions elsewhere.

                    3. 1/2 don’t make much difference at all, we’re simply bigger sticklers for enforcing approximately similar crimes/laws.

                    Maybe higher prosecution percentages, maybe longer terms when prosecuted.

                    1. Could be a combo of all 3 to varying degrees. Who the heck knows. One could figure some of it out if you REALLY went through data with a fine tooth comb.

                      As far as number 3 goes, that wouldn’t NECESSARILY be a bad thing, depending on the crimes being punished more consistently/harshly.

                      Many 3rd world toilets have higher REAL crime than the US, but with FAR lower prosecution rates. That’s not good… So do we just do a better job catching criminals than slacker European cops? Hard to say, but it could be possible. Do we punish people harder? Also possible. If we’re more successful catching, and have harsher punishment, for rapists, I DO NOT have a problem with that. If it’s people in prison for BS, then that is a problem. We obviously have BS prison sentences, but how much does that contribute to the problem? Again a deep dive would be needed.

                      The above kind of stuff is what makes this all so much more complicated than many want to think. PLUS the race disparity to boot. It’s not a simple topic.

    2. “This would be a great start on reform. If only we could end drug prohibition and release all prisoners with only drug offenses and/or other minor non-violent crimes. While we’re at it lets repeal all other vice laws like sex work and gambling prohibitions.”

      I certainly agree; anyone in jail for a ‘victimless’ crime is wasting his/her life and my money. And props to Jerry B.
      But in looking at the stats forwarded by (an admitted left-capsizing) attorney of my acquaintance, it seems that those are not sufficient to explain the amazing percentage of our fellows languishing in jail.
      WIH does the US manage to jail that percentage of its population?

        1. Fuck off Hihn.

    3. release all prisoners…other minor non-violent crimes.

      Maybe not this. If someone steals from me, let em serve their sentence in full.

  3. Hmm. I just Googled “Obama Criminal Justice reform bill” and I don’t see any laws he got passed.

    Maybe I’m bad at Googling. Or maybe Obama was a worse leader than Trump, or not interested in criminal justice reform.

    1. Calling Obama a leader is misleading, so to speak. He was great at rousing the rabble and had teflon skin, but not much else. Thinking? No. Knowledge? No. Reasoning? No. Logic? No. Consistent principles? No.

      Just a rabble rouser.

      1. I think you’d have to search many pages before you found Obo at the lead of any criminal-justice reform. There was no voter-gain, hence the slime-bag had no interest.

          1. Sulk much?

    2. I was going to say for such a ‘transformative leader’ he sure did little where it mattered most.

      Trump has him beat hands down so far.

      1. First Trump dismantles his legacy. Then he starts creating the legacy that Obama “should” have had.

        Also known as a bitch slap.

        1. No kidding

        2. Trump’s much better than I expected. He’s a bullshitter, but which politician isn’t? If he keeps this up, I might even vote for him next election. If he legalizes pot and the economy holds up he’s a shoe-in next election.

      2. “Trump has him beat hands down so far.”

        You are now listed as a “TRUMPISTA” or some such pejorative forever afterward.
        You can ask the asshole, turd, Tony, the Hihn-bot-stampede, or many of the reason staff for the ‘proper’ term.

          1. The Hihn-bot stampede checks in.\
            Fuck off.

          2. Trump’s the most libertarian President since Eisenhower. Carter was okay, but got screwed by the economy and the debacle at Desert One. Reagan and both Bushes were all scumbags. Clinton was a hypocritical statist douchebag, though I was fooled by his sax on election night and thought that he was a little bit cool. Obama was a big disappointing bag of hot air, though he won the gamble on UBL. I thought that he would at least deschedule pot and get us out of ruinous foreign entanglements. Anyone else was a mixed bag.

            1. While I agree that Eisenhower better than most president in the last 100 years, he didnt really want to be president. Eisenhower didnt aggressively target government excess like Trump is.

              To be fair there was less government excess for Eisenhower but many of the modern social programs were around in the 1950s too.

              1. Well, just to prove nit-picking is the reason for Reason; Eisenhower was the only US President to illegally use US Army troops for civilian law enforcement in violation of posse comitatus.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

        1. Meh. So be it.

          They’re just words, right?

    3. Obama did grant some good pardons, along with a couple bad ones.

      But the good ones were good, and didn’t require Congressional approval.

      1. Wow. I’m underwhelmed.

  4. A couple decent amendments didn’t get a vote (somewhat understandable in the sense “look, this is the compromise, we’re rejecting all amendments to get it through) – Cory Gardner tried to attach his bill to basically legalize at the federal level pot in states that have legalized it, Tim Scott tried to attach an amendment to require reporting on police killing people.

  5. Usually, about this time, Hihn signs on with a new sock. Let’s see how long it takes this evening and how many posts it takes before the Hihn-tells show.
    Hey, you pathetic excuse for humanity! Let’s see it!

    1. So it turns out that fucking ignoramus Hihn shows up at the expected hour and (if you are willing to search through his link) proves me wrong in the specific example I chose; shame on me. Not the general point; and a fucking lefty ignoramus like Hihn thinks this is, ah, well, really important, somehow!!!!!!!!!!!!
      OK, you fucking ignoramus Hihn, are you happy now? After making as ass of yourself?

  6. I stopped reading after 7 paragraphs and skipped to the last 4. I learned nothing of interest about the bill beyond what the title told.
    Is “Reason” disparate for articles? This is not good journalism.

    1. *desperate

      1. Works either way – – – – –

  7. I have no idea what is really in this, as it has been tweaked since I last read any details, and of course Reason doesn’t really offer any details in this article…

    I hope this was a good one. Many mandatory minimums are generally BS, as discretion with judges/juries is generally not a bad thing. I don’t like the general idea of letting violent criminals off easier though, unless the previous sentences were totally out of proportion with where they should have been.

    With this stuff, the devil is in the details. Our system obviously fucks people for victimless crimes that shouldn’t even be illegal… But I don’t have problem with people rotting in prison for a long ass time for violent crimes or other real crimes. 50 years for a really hardcore assault? Too long… 1 year… Too short probably. So hopefully they got the DETAILS right on some of this stuff.

  8. I have little faith in criminal justice reform without significant changes being made to the plea bargain system.
    Mike Flynn’s situation provides a high profile example of something that happens far too often to far too many anonymous people.
    Prosecutors overcharge people represented usually by public defenders, who have 75 cases going on at the same time. Public defender isn’t trying to go to court for everybody, they’re just trying to get through each day and on to the next, so he/she makes the 5 to serve 3 offer sound real good as opposed to the 15 to serve 12 that they’ll take to the jury. On top of that, how much confidence can you even have in your court appointed attorney going up against seasoned, ambitious prosecutors?
    If you’re completely 100% innocent, can you really gamble 20 years on behavior of 15 people (jury, judge, prosecutor, defense attorney) minimum?
    And despite all that, there’s the usual prejudice of juries (registered voters) who naturally view someone’s mere presence in front of them as a strike against their innocence (even if not for that particular charge).

    1. In high school I interned for a competent defense attorney. She was private practice, and worked hard, but most of her cases were court-appointed (GA, at least Gwinnett, didn’t have public defenders but assigned cases by rotation). She pled the majority, not unreasonably, as that’s how the vast majority of cases are decided.
      Begs a question: if offense is deserving of a standard penalty, how can you justify reducing that penalty 90% of the time? If offenses aren’t deserving of that standard penalty, how can you justify it as the standard?

      1. Anyway, this lawyer did get a case defending someone of murder. The defendant was involved in a gang fight and a rival’s brother got shot. Her client didn’t fire a shot, but was involved in the fight.
        There were 10 people originally charged. 9 of them pled to lesser offenses, including the trigger man, but she believed strongly that this kid had been overcharged. Since everyone else had already made a deal, prosecutors needed to get someone for homicide and wouldn’t lower charges.
        She was right: the kid never touched the victim, let alone shot him.
        They went to trial and he was convicted.

        1. Now it’s not just about the facts of the case either. Attorneys have relationships with each other, very much so between the DA’s office and the defense attorneys they go up against. They make deals more often than they argue in court.
          She was a middle class attorney who defended mostly destitute offenders. She got deals for her clients, but not as good as the millionaire attorneys who defended upper-middle and upper class clients (bit of a chicken and egg issue here, of course).
          Bringing it back to the high profile case of the day, Flynn was practically begged by the presiding judge to withdraw his guilty plea – but he wouldn’t. Why not, when the facts are overwhelmingly on his side?
          Because they bankrupted him, threatened far more serious charges, and threatened his family.
          They framed and used him for their own purposes, and there was nothing he could realistically do about it without taking a huge gamble. The people who charged him knew he was innocent of the very thing they charged him with, but who cares because they have the plea pressure and will never have to prove their case in court.

          Mandatory minimums are just the tip of the iceberg. I bet, if you look into it, they’re used far more often to pressure someone into pleading to lesser charges than they are actually implemented.
          So I’m a bit skeptical of any “justice” reforms that don’t address the plea issue, though maybe something is better than nothing.

          1. Thanks for the background story.

            I dont see a solution that works for every party in the criminal justice system.

            I advocate trials for everyone. This would force prosecutors to only charge and not drop charges on defendants that they think they can win on.

            Judges would not like this because they would have to sit over trials and not leave early after their plea calendar is finished.

            1. Victims would not like this because many people would have their minor charges dropped.

              I think trial for all felonies would still put pressure on prosecutors but allow people charged with misdemeanors to plea because they are minor offenses and go to trial if they want to. A year in jail as maximum punishment is still worth the risk to fight bullshit misdemeanor charge. You can do weekends and work release, so you dont lose your job. If you lose the trial that is.

              If you win, you walk out of the court and give the prosecutor the middle finger.

            2. I do think you’re right in a lot of ways: There is no perfect system.

              Any way you tilt the scales, somebody will get peeved. So it’s a delicate balancing act.

              I’m kind of of the mind that if we just fixed the problem with the things that are actually against the law, IE no victimless crimes, the rest is more or less okayish most of the time. Most people that get busted for some shit tend to be trouble makers who just finally got nailed, even though they’ve probably done worse things, or the same thing a ton of other times. If you can’t be arrested for BS things, this would theoretically mean mostly only trouble makers would be getting busted for things.

              Even if the system remains kinda fucked like it is, it’s not THAT big of a deal at that point. I have been arrested for stupid shit when I was a teenager, and knew plenty more people who were too… I don’t know anybody who was outright framed for anything. Mostly just people who got railed for what they were busted for. Therefore no more victimless crimes, and even those getting nabbed will have at least done something legit wrong in the vast majority of cases.

              This isn’t a perfect world scenario, but a realistic one I think.

          2. The plea bargain system is a symptom, not a cause, of which the deplorable funding of public defense is more at the core (side note- how come libertarians don’t rail as aggressively against this positive right).

            When the state has near unlimited resources to pursue a prosecution, plea bargains are going to be inevitable.

            Curbing the budgets of the DOJ might not even work, as prosecutors can just shift their focus to more vague aspects of the law (conspiracy is a good one).

            Reforming Grand Juries to end charge stacking would be a good first step. Making amounts spent on prosecution/defense more equitable would end a large portion of the abuses.

            1. Judges siding with the state more often than not and not allowing indigent defendants to access monies for expert witnesses are also fundamental system issues.

              In my opinion, if you cannot follow the Constitution and the rules to properly prosecute defendants, then dont do it at all.

              All violations of defendant’s rights should result in immediate and absolute dismissal of all charges. Prosecutors need to turn over all material to avoid Brady violations, fire dumptruck public defenders so defendants get effective assistance of counsel, and all confession and snitch evidence needs to be backed up by video and/or audio of the defendant confessing.

    2. If a persecutor offers a deal, they’re admitting that the proposed punishment is an adequate punishment for whatever they claim the accused did. If the accused decides to go to trial, he shouldn’t be facing any greater penalty.

      -jcr

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  10. Another accomplishment in the positive column for Trump.

  11. I do have to wonder how the Democrats are going to spin this to make it look bad, because Trump…

    1. The Democratic Party will likely go back to black people bad since this prison reform will accelerate black Americans leaving the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has accomplished nothing like this to actually help tackle the massive incarceration of black Americans.

      While black folks did commit crimes at greater rates in the USA, giving people more time for crack vs powder cocaine was bullshit move to target a certain group.

  12. Did I miss the name Kushner in this article?

  13. This bothers me–

    “This proposed amendment would notify all survivors, whether they choose to be notified or not,” the group Fairness, Dignity & Respect for Crime Victims & Survivors Project said in a statement. “This takes away the victim’s autonomy to choose to remain informed and notified, and autonomy is a key tenet of trauma-informed victim/survivor assistance.”

    Crimes that have survivors shouldn’t have inmates who are eligible.

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