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    The First Step Act: Criminal Justice Reform Likely to Get Senate Vote 
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    Key Republican senator pushing McConnell for vote on criminal justice bill

    (CNN)With Congress eying to exit Washington in a few weeks, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the influential Judiciary committee, dismissed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's claim that a major criminal justice reform bill doesn't have the support of the majority of Republicans in the Senate.

    At an event Tuesday moderated by The Washington Post, the Iowa Republican said that the bill could pass in three or four days, and would lose Republican support if it gets punted to 2019, when Democrats take control of the House.

    "If McConnell will bring this up, it will pass overwhelmingly," Grassley said.

    Grassley helped write the legislation, known as the First Step Act, which would allow thousands of current and future federal inmates get out earlier, and rehabilitate back into society through halfway houses, home confinement or other supervision, by reducing drug-related mandatory sentences and making more offenders eligible for early release through earning credits awarded by completing certain activities and programs.

    McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, has not said publicly whether he supports or opposes the bill. When asked by CNN Tuesday whether he would put the bill on the floor this year, McConnell said "we're still talking."

    But McConnell said Monday in a Wall Street Journal interview that the First Step Act is "extremely divisive" among his fellow Republican senators, even though it "does have a lot of support from both" parties. After this week's services celebrating the life of the late President George H.W. Bush, McConnell noted that Congress has only two weeks before it leaves for the Christmas holiday, making it "very hard to figure out how to shoehorn" the bill through Congress.

    "I'm pretty confident given the broad support it has that it would pass next year," McConnell added.

    With the support of President Donald Trump, the First Step Act is expected to easily pass the Republican-controlled House should McConnell decide to put it up for a vote and send it to the other chamber. McConnell, however, is loathe to pass bills that split his party, and he claimed Monday that "there are more members in my conference who are either against it or undecided than are for it."

    Grassley disputed McConnell's math as well, tweeting Tuesday that more than half of the 51 Republican senators support the bill.

    "Ldr McConnell said he would need to have 60+ votes to bring criminal justice reform up & wanted to show large amount of Republican support," Grassley tweeted. "We have delivered. More than 1/2 of the Republican caucus supports the First Step Act LET'S VOTE!"

    The First Step Act would also retroactively apply the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity between powder and crack cocaine-related offenses, affecting the sentences of around 2,600 prisoners.

    At The Washington Post event, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, noted that he and former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions ?a conservative and Trump's former attorney general ? struck that bipartisan compromise in 2010. Durbin said he was open to negotiating other provisions in the First Step Act to bring along Senate Republicans wary of the bill.

    "The deal will be closed when one senator steps up and says it's time ? and that's Sen. Mitch McConnell," Durbin said.
    McConnell vs Kushner et al.

    I'm betting on McConnell; he knows procedural strategies to keep this bill on ice until next year. Or forever.

    It would be a nice, mostly bipartisan bill to pass though. There must be some serious resistance either in the Republican caucus or the donor hive. Hmmm...

    Let's see if defying Trump is as becoming as popular as I think it is.
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    Last edited by cduggles; 07-12-2018 at 19:13. Reason: Fix link
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    Duggles, the second link to the politico article is dead. Repost?
    Struggling with addiction? Join us at Sober Living. We can help.
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    ^ typo in the url. here it is: Trump’s criminal justice reform nears demise

    alasdair
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    Thanks Ali. Link in my post fixed as well.
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    #6
    am i reading this right?

    would allow thousands of current and future federal inmates get out earlier, and rehabilitate back into society through halfway houses, home confinement or other supervision, by reducing drug-related mandatory sentences and making more offenders eligible for early release through earning credits awarded by completing certain activities and programs.
    first link.

    also first link
    The First Step Act would also retroactively apply the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity between powder and crack cocaine-related offenses, affecting the sentences of around 2,600 prisoners.
    seems like they're trying to make room in the prison system, also seems like reparations of sorts. idk, sounds fishy, especially with trump supporting it.

    that last quote seems like hair splitting. not much of a difference if you ask me, just weight.

    first they legalize marijuana in las vegas, now they're kicking drug users out of jail. interesting. (in las vegas it use to be more fines and time served to get caught with 1 gram of marijuana than it was 2 grams of cocaine.)

    i like this, qft imo.
    “Inaction is a lot easier than action around here.”
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    #7
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    ^ First Step is aimed at criminal justice reforms for non-violent offenders, and has specific provisions for drug users.

    Texas has been doing a lot around penal system reform and saved many pesos while doing it, so that data is being looked at closely.

    But what about the private prison lobby, cduggles? I'm pleased you asked. They are positioning themselves to do the rehabilitation for prisoners. Halfway houses.

    The FIRST STEP Act, if approved, will almost certainly create new business opportunities. The legislation encourages contracting with for-profit companies for post-prison services.

    It's unclear whether GEO or CoreCivic would be in line to provide those services. GEO's federal contracts are currently limited to immigration services; the company mostly does business with states. But if Trump signs federal criminal justice reform, it could give Republican-run states like Florida cover to follow suit. This week, former Florida Senate President Joe Negron announced his new job as general counsel for Geo Group.

    GEO has certainly positioned itself for more business to its rehabilitation arm, GEO Care. The company added 3,800 re-entry beds for people leaving prison by purchasing Community Education Centers.

    But it also added a company with its own problems. Community Education Centers was part of a network of halfway houses in New Jersey investigated by Gov. Chris Christie's administration for squalid conditions, gang activity and high drug use.

    Paez, the GEO spokesman, said the company is committed to "reducing recidivism rates across the country by providing the resources and skills needed for an individual's successful reentry into society."

    "This legislation is focused on rehabilitation and recidivism reduction, which directly aligns with the goals of our" company," he said.
    Source: https://www.tampabay.com/florida-pol...ustice-reform/

    Jared Kushner has been a major force behind getting this passed (his dad was in prison, in part for hiring a hooker and filming her with his brother-in-law to prevent him from testifying. Ewwww.)

    Go Jared! I'm actually impressed at the amount of Republican support this has generated.

    The senators, like Mitch McConnell, who are running in 2020 don't want to be perceived as soft on crime.

    I'll believe it when I see it passed and not watered down.

    Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote on criminal justice reform this month, handing victory to Trump

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate will vote on a major criminal justice reform bill in December, paving the way for an easing of America's federal sentencing laws and handing a victory to President Donald Trump, who
    endorsed
    the legislation last month.

    The Kentucky Republican announced on the floor of the Senate that his decision was made at Trump's request and followed unspecified changes to the bill.

    Tensions about the legislation had escalated in recent days. Trump on Friday publicly called on McConnell to bring the bill to a vote. McConnell has been reluctant to do so, citing other pressing legislative matters and cautioning that there may not be enough votes.

    Republicans have been sharply divided over the legislation, which would reduce the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years for drug offenses, and give judges the power to bypass the minimum sentences altogether for certain offenders.

    But it has earned support from a broad coalition of lawmakers and activists, including from within the White House, where Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner is a key proponent.

    GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky have also emerged as vocal proponents of the overhaul. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who has claimed the United States has an "under-incarceration problem," has led opposition to the effort.

    The United States Sentencing Commission estimates that roughly 2,250 inmates per year could have their sentences reduced under the reforms included in the bill, called the First Step Act. One major reform would eliminate "charge stacking," which extends sentences for possessing a gun while committing another crime, for first-time offenders.

    Graham said Tuesday that passing the bill would be "a hell of a way to end 2018."

    "If it happens, it will be because of Jared Kushner and his team and the president getting behind it and our Democratic friends I hope have been very reasonable," Graham told reporters. "I know there's a lot of anxiety about working with Trump, but this is a case where I think it's gonna be a win-win."

    The looming end of the year contributed to a frenzy to deliver a vote before a new Congress is seated. McConnell said that lawmakers should expect to work on the legislation over the holidays. Reaching a major criminal justice reform compromise could be much more difficult starting next month, as a progressive slate of Democrats elected in November takes office.

    The House easily passed a version of the First Step Act in May, though it was criticized by some liberals who said it did not go far enough.

    McConnell said the Senate would have to work efficiently to get the bill through in time.

    "Unless we approach all this work in a highly collaborative, productive way and take real advantage of unanimous consent to expedite proceedings, it is virtually certain that the Senate will need to be in session between Christmas and New Year's in order to complete this work," McConnell said Tuesday.

    Largely behind the scenes, Republicans have been proposing changes in recent weeks that could reduce the impact of the bill but generate more support from their caucus. Those changes include a broadening of the categories of offenders who would not be eligible for sentence reduction.

    On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced his support for the bill after gaining White House approval of an amendment that he said would exclude violent offenders from early release.

    "I'm happy to report that, after working closely with the White House and the sponsors of this bill, they have decided to accept my amendment," he said in a statement. "This new version of the bill resolves my concerns, and is one that I wholeheartedly support and cosponsor."

    It's not clear how many Republicans will support the legislation. Sources told The Hill that the official Senate whip count stands at 16 Republicans in favor as of Sunday, though alternative counts put the number at as high as 30 of the 51 GOP members of the Senate.

    Lawmakers are expected to continue to hammer out the details of the legislation in the approach to the New Year. McConnell advised the chamber Tuesday to "prepare for a very, very long month."
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