Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Congress to Vote on Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 4:28 PM

U.S. lawmakers could vote on a sweeping criminal justice reform bill as early as next week.

The New York Times reported Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader of the Senate, made an unusual move and promised to push the bill to the floor quickly so Congress could vote on it before the end of the year.

The First Step Act, pushed heavily by criminal justice advocates on both sides of the political spectrum, calls for investments in drug treatment and mental health programs to reduce recidivism, an expansion of early release credits, rolling back 90s-era minimum sentencing laws and changing laws that disproportionately impacted Black communities.

It was written by Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, and Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois. The Times reported that the bill is being expedited now because of a fear that "the deal would have fallen apart in the new Congress because Democrats would demand more liberal changes to sentencing laws."

There are more than two million people incarcerated in the United States, which is the highest amount out of any other country, according to a study from the World Prison Brief. The second largest number comes from China, where roughly 1.6 million people are incarcerated.


Within the U.S., Arizona has the sixth highest rate for imprisoning people out of all 50 states. The Sentencing Project's data states Arizona incarcerates 593 out of every 100,000 individuals. It is likely that the state legislature will see some criminal justice reform bills in the upcoming legislative session.

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