A bipartisan bill that actually affects the lives of people and cleans up the horror show that is the US sentencing system?!? TO HELL YOU SAY!!
Much like “progress” or “dignity,” it’s a word that you don’t hear a lot when talking about Congress. With each piece of new legislation Congress looks to be more and more divided. That’s why the SAFE Justice Act is such an anomaly!
To put it bluntly, this bill is a HUGE deal! It basically allows judges to narrow mandatory sentencing wherever they see fit by sentencing non-violent drug offenders to probation (instead of prison) and give inmates the ability to reduce prison sentences by participating in rehabilitation programs. The bill also provides services to those that are getting out of prison through the renewal of the Second Chance Act.
In all honesty, it’s actually an impressive piece of legislation that deals with multiple problems of the criminal justice system by shrinking the overcrowded prison population, cutting the cost of the prison industrial complex (which has skyrocketed in the past two decades from less than $1 billion to nearly $7 billion), and starting to reverse the policies of the ill-fated “War on Drugs” era.
Yet even with all this, the most remarkable aspect of the SAFE Justice Act? The overwhelming bipartisan support behind the legislation!
Yes Donald Glover, shocking indeed!
The SAFE Justice Act is actually being introduced by Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, along with Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott, and looks to pass both the House and Senate in the current legislative session. While this bill might seem one of the most unlikely pieces of legislation to get bipartisan support, upon closer inspection, it really shouldn’t be all that surprising.
Republicans, specifically of those in the fiscally conservative variety, would support the SAFE Justice Act due to the cost-cutting aspect presented throughout the bill. As stated before, by committing fewer inmates into the US prison system means less financial strain on federal, state, and local governments. The measure has such conservative pastiche that it’s even backed by the Heritage Foundation and the Koch brothers!
As for Democrats, their reasoning for supporting the SAFE Justice Act aligns more with organizations like the ACLU than with the Republicans. With President Obama commuting sentences for 46 non-violent individuals earlier this month, it shows the Democrats look at the legislation’s impact more in terms of civil liberties upon individuals than fiscal pressures put on government systems.
Yet at the end of the day, the SAFE Justice Act accomplishes both goals set by Republicans and Democrats remarkably well.
In many ways it’s the easiest legislation to get passed.
However in US Congress, historically those are the ones that most susceptible to tacked on with non-tangential amendments or worse, to be tabled indefinitely.
Let’s hope that isn’t the fate of the SAFE Justice Act.
(Photo Credits: Wikipedia, Google Images)