What gridlock? In a never before seen press conference featuring a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, the NAACP, the Koch Brothers, the ACLU and the other conservative and liberal groups, support was expressed for a specific piece of sweeping criminal justice reform legislation: The SAFE Justice Act.
Though criminal justice reform has recently become an increasingly bipartisan issue, few lawmakers in the last few gridlocked Congresses have actually brought comprehensive bipartisan legislation forward. In the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill today, bipartisan statements from representatives from the following groups joined in support of the SAFE Justice Act. The bill is the result of the work and findings of a bipartisan House task force on over-criminalization and is being introduced by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
The groups and individuals standing in support include: the ACLU, Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers, the NAACP, David Keene, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and Richard Vigueire joined in the same room with Reps. Sensenbrenner, Scott, Doug Collins (R-GA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Judy Chu (D-CA), Mia Love (R-UT) and Scott Rigell (R-VA) all in the same room.
According to the bill’s sponsors, the SAFE Justice Act would:
••• Reduce recidivism by –
· incentivizing completion of evidence-based prison programming and activities through expanded earned time credits;
· implementing swift, certain, and proportionate sanctions for violations of supervision; and
· offering credits for compliance with the conditions of supervision.
••• Concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals by –
· focusing mandatory minimum sentences on leaders and supervisors of drug trafficking organizations;
· modestly expanding the drug trafficking safety valve (an exception to mandatory minimums) for offenders who provide substantial assistance to the government; and
· creating release valves for lower-risk geriatric and terminally-ill offenders.
••• Increase use of evidence-based sentencing alternatives by –
encouraging greater use of probation and problem-solving courts for appropriate offenders; and
· creating a performance-incentive funding program to better align the interests of the Bureau of Prisons and federal judicial districts.
••• Curtail over-criminalization by –
· requiring regulatory criminal offenses to be compiled and published for the public;
· ensuring fiscal impact statements are attached to all future sentencing and corrections proposals; and
· charging the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Administrative Office of the Courts with collecting key outcome performance measures.
••• Reduce crime by –
· investing in evidence-based crime prevention initiatives; and
· increasing funding for community based policing and public safety initiatives.