Prison sentencing reform bill proposed in US Senate

Nine senators aiming to modify the criminal justice system and discard a scattering of more punitive punishments which incarcerate non-violent offenders in the prison system have proposed a plan to refine sentencing laws.

The measure would end the “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” fiat, which requires life sentences for violent offenders found guilty of a third felony with two previous convictions.

Among the key components of the proposal:  Limiting solitary confinement for juveniles, allowing juveniles to seek a reduction in sentencing after 20 years served, boosting prisoner rehabilitation programs and, most important, affording more independence to jurists in sentencing low-level lawbreakers.

“For the first time, we are cutting back many of the most severe mandatory minimums so they apply more fairly.  We are bringing real reform to our prisons that give low-risk inmates the chance to return to society earlier, with better prospects,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), co-sponsor of the measure.

Overjoyed with the proposal, President Obama issued a statement which read:

“The broad and impressive bipartisan coalition that created the bill makes me optimistic that members on both sides of the aisle, in both houses, will continue to work together on this critical issue in the coming weeks and months and put a meaningful criminal justice reform bill on my desk before the end of this year.”

A similar bill being weighed in the House would reduce mandatory sentences.


At long last, an amelioration to a persistent misapplication of the law.

This proposal is the result of rational complaints taken to their logical conclusion.

Despite being well-intentioned, mandatory-minimum sentences, the lengthy imprisonment of non-violent offenders, and the “three-strikes” law quickly became an outrage to common sense and decency.

Due to the development and deepening of this misguided policy, opposition grew in both intensity and scope.  With this undertaking, a rather pernicious law will be revised without surrendering to crime. The nine senators connected with it cast aside an over eagerness to assume the absolute worst in people all the time to become men of logic, reason, compassion and sympathy.


[Reuters] [New York Times] [Photo courtesy Noozhawk]