by Countable | Updated on 3.28.18
It’s not all partisan wrangling on Capitol Hill. Sometimes politicians within the same party have at each other. The latest fight has been between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and chair of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
Grassley is trying to get floor time for a bipartisan bill offering a sweeping overhaul of sentencing and federal prisons. Sessions has panned the bill, Officially, he is backing a much narrower prison reform effort from the administration formulated by White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, though he has done nothing to promote it.
Grassley's Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, explains the New York Times, would "change mandatory-minimum sentences and ease drug laws that have been used to seek lengthy sentences for nonviolent offenders. The bill also includes provisions to expand education, worker training and drug rehabilitation programs in [federal] prison."
It has 25 co-sponsors, split evenly between both parties. Grassley said about the measure to Politico, "This bill strikes the right balance of improving public safety and ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system. It is the product of much thoughtful deliberation, and we will continue to welcome input from stakeholders as we move forward."
Sessions wrote a letter to Congress condemning the bill. He insists that the legislation "risks putting the very worst criminals back into our communities."
Instead, the administration is backing a set of principles distributed to Congress focused solely on prison reform — reducing recidivism through education and work training programs, arguing that a more narrow set of reforms is more likely to pass Congress.
Some of the programs they are now touting were defunded or scrapped in the early days of the administration.
Grassley, reports Politico, has worked for years to formulate the more expansive reform legislation. He even managed to get it passed out of the Judiciary Committee despite Sessions’ opposition. Sessions, Grassley argues, is overstepping his role and intruding on the legislative process:
"It’s Senator Sessions talking, not a person whose job it is to execute law, and quite frankly I’m very incensed…If he wanted to do this he should have done what people suggested to him before: resign from attorney general and run for the Senate in Alabama again. We’d have a Republican senator."
Grassley is referring to the Senate seat vacated by Sessions, which was subsequently lost to Republicans when Democrat Doug Jones beat Roy Moore.
Do you support a wider reform of sentencing, drug laws, and prison programs, or do you think a more narrow prison reform effort is the right step at this time?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Politico via Twitter)
Written by Countable
Jeff sessions belongs back in the 1600s. Unfit to be a lawyer, now he is the national Attorney General? Really? And Jared Kushner is an expert on the judiciary, rehab, and preventing recidivism?Yes we need to reform the judiciary that imprisons people of color, get rid of outdated immoral drug laws. We need to re-institute mental health treatment, job training, and social supports for prisoners returning to life outside. The majority of prisoners were abused children. A good approach would be supporting families. Remedies are all a little different from what’s happening, aren’t they? Yes to Chuck Grassley. Jeff Sessions has lied under oath, is racist, and unfit.
Grassley, who I rarely agree with, is correct on this. Sessions doesn’t realize what he advocates is outdated and has been proven wrong. Then again, follow the money and see if he is a recipient of money from private prisons. That could explain much.
FULLY SUPPORT GRASSLEY’S PRISON REFORM EFFORTS !!!!
100% support Grassley on this, along with the 25 co-sponsors. It is called ‘prison REFORM’ after all.
The bigoted, xenophobic Sessions deserves neither honor. Hopefully, he and the whole despicable djt-pence administration will be gone soon.
I typically disagree with a lot that Grassley has to say, but he’s more than correct on this. The rate of recidivism in prison population is appalling, and his bill would at least attempt to fix them, along with fixing the horribly racist minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. We need changes in our prisons, and the bill Senator Grassley has proposed is a well-reasoned, intelligent, bipartisan bill that should be voted on and ultimately passed, regardless of AG Session’s feelings on it. He is no longer a senator, if he wanted to continue voting on bills, he should have declined the Attorney General job.
A big part of this story is the fact that the UK courts have formally blocked extradition of a criminal to the US in part due to the US prison and criminal justice system being ruled too severe and inhumane! That is huge! One of our closest and most respected allies has ruled our prison system too awful to subject their own citizens to it despite having clearly committed crimes here. I'm not sure Grassley's reforms go far enough, but this is a big step in the right direction and I fully support this bipartisan reform effort and hope to see more reform come to this deeply dysfunctional part of our country. Our privatized system is perverse and needs to be eliminated entirely. The drug war is a failed policy; it needs to be treated as a healthcare crisis, not a used as the subversive attack on minorities that it was intended to be. We need to be rehabilitating prisoners, not training them to be lifelong criminals. There is a lot of cleaning up to do.
Really? What qualifications does Kushner have regarding the law and prison reform? Adios, Sessions! Can’t wait until the whole motley crew is out of office and stop the assault on our democracy! I support Grassley proposal.
Our for-profit prison system is a disgrace. We need a system that reforms and discourages recidivism, not one the punishes and pulls ex-cons back in, whatever the prison lobby wants.
Please vote for Grassley’s bipartisan bill.
Please support Grassley’s bipartisan bill to reform prisons. Too many citizens get caught in the revolving door of prisons due to lack of mental health resources and job training. Had mental health and job training been available to the majority of prison inmates in their youth they probably wouldn’t have ended up in prison in the first place. Go further and also allow them to vote.
Sessions is an out of date dinosaur when it comes to prisons and sentencing. If it were up to him we’d be like Singapore where you can get two years for just spitting on the sidewalk. If he’s against it everybody else should be for it.
Very disappointed in Attorney General Sessions and this administration. While I believe violent offenders deserve harsher sentences, I also believe we need to find a way to help the non-violent offenders to change and turn their lives around.
Mr. Magoo, I truly cannot wait until you either resign or get fired when your current administration loses votes next big round.
Support Senator Grassley on prison reform. Attorney General Sessions, as a member of the Executive Branch, needs to stay in his lane. He has no right to lobby for legislation. His job is to enforce it.
I voted for Trump, and I am a huge supporter of both military and law enforcement, but have to agree with Grassley on this issue. 1) Mandatory minimums tie judges hands, 2) Often times the color of the VICTIM is what determines whether someone gets a harsher sentence or the death penalty, 3) Drug use—although it creates collateral damage to families and supports an overall criminal cabal (including incentivizing corruption within law enforcement)—is most harmful to the user, 4) Drug cartels can still be given harsher sentences, 5) People economically disadvantaged because they can’t afford quality legal help are the predominant group that end up imprisoned, and lastly, 6) Neither prisons, foster care programs, or any program with an incentive to keep people in its shackles should ever be privatized—which some/or parts of our current system are. Lastly, what on earth does Jared Kushner know about prison reform? I’m okay with him brokering peace in the Middle East; he cant do any worse than others who’ve tried, but prison reform? Let’s leave this to the legislature. I say vote “yes” on this bi-partisan bill.
Grassley & Sessions would do the Country a great service if they took a lengthy research visit to Germany. Examine in depth, how they manage their Offenders with their unique approach to ‘consequences of violating the law’. Especially Germany’s incarceration protocol, should be of most interest. They will immediately recognize the focus of treatment is: GENUINE REHABILITATION done with respecting humanity. Away from our emphasis on ‘punishment’. Which, by the way-Punishment, ie, Penitentiary is the invention of the good old USA! Did you know that? How is that working out?
Newsweek article July, 2017 "Serving Time: Average prison sentence in the U.S. is getting even longer The average amount of time inmates spend in prison has increased significantly, according to a recent study by Washington, D.C., think tank, Urban Institute. The study found the average amount of time served behind bars had risen by about 5 years from 2000 to 2014. Researchers also discovered that black men, in particular, were the majority of the population of inmates serving the longest sentences." Enough said. Sessions is wrong once again.
We need help fixing the sentencing issue that we have not only in the state of New Jersey but all over the country.
I support Grassly’s bill