SENTENCING REFORM-WHO NEEDS TO BE TOUGH ON CRIME!

In this era of political paralysis on Capitol Hill it should be headline news that conservatives and liberals are working together to reform the sentencing process for non-violent drug dealers. The question is whose proposed reform will be enacted as legislation? Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows; to illustrate this point, consider the following legislation and the sponsors who’ve crossed over party lines and teamed together: Durbin and Lee, Democrat and Republican, have introduced “The Smarter Sentencing Act” — to revise the fixed sentencing guidelines for non-violent drug offenders. Leahy and Paul, Democrat and Tea Party Republican, have introduced the “Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013” — which gives judges more discretion to sentence below mandatory minimums. The latter bill has already won bipartisan House endorsements and both of these proposals have already been addressed in prior blogs on this site.

Conservatives who regularly use tough rhetoric about punishing criminals, have already signed on to the essence of what Holder and Obama want to see in congressional legislation. At the dawn of 2013, who would have thought they would hear the following from these hard liners: Grover Norquist–“It’s a step in the right direction, though about five years too late;” Mike Huckabee– “Finally found something I can agree with Eric Holder on — sentencing too many people to prison for non-violent drug crimes;” and Rand Paul–“I am encouraged that the president and the attorney general agree with me that mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders promote injustice and do not serve public safety.”

One would think the momentum for sentencing reform would be unstoppable with the bipartisan support that is being brought to bear. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that logic and common sense will prevail over the divisiveness that has paralyzed our legislative process for the past decade.

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