"That's what we found in the states, and that's what we'll have for these federal prisoners". It would do so by reducing the "three strikes" rule that now means many people with three convictions get a mandatory life sentence. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Dick Durbin of IL negotiated a bill that incorporated curbs to certain drug mandatory minimum sentences, increased good-time credits and expanded rehabilitative programming for people in federal prisons.
"We look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law, and we must now continue moving the needle on justice reform even further towards fairness", Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, a grassroots conservative advocacy group, said in a statement. The Senate passed a revised version of the criminal justice bill, which originated in the House, on Tuesday. The overwhelming majority of people in federal prisons on crack charges are black.
The bill received a major boost last month when Trump endorsed it as "reasonable sentencing reforms while keeping unsafe and violent criminals off our streets". The President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose father had served a 14-month sentence for witness tampering, tax evasion and illegal campaign finance, and celebrity Kim Kardashian were among those who brought President Donald Trump on board with the legislation. Kennedy, Murkowski and Rubio voted "no" on the landmark legislation.
"We're not just talking about money", Cornyn told the Post. "We're talking about human potential".
More than 2,600 people will benefit from this change, according to a federal agency's numbers.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton has been a vocal opponent of the bill, and added amendments which would have barred more felons from participating in the bill's earned-time credit program, along with other hard-line proposals.
Cotton argued that his amendments were in line with the intent of the bill and would "fix some of the worst part of the bill". Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted on that provision, which was inadvertently left out of the bill, as well as language from Sen.
The bill's opponents' overall objection was that the legislation would let too many bad guys out of prison too soon.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, said the nation's prisons are full of Americans who are struggling with mental illness and addiction, and who are overwhelmingly poor. Kushner has made overhauling the criminal justice system one of his top projects in the White House.
Though Trump ran as a "tough on crime" candidate, he has shown a willingness to right what he considers wrongs in the criminal justice system.
This change would not be retroactive, so it would not help people already in prison serving life sentences under the three-strike rule. Lawmakers had been working on the proposal since the Obama administration. "We are committed to seeing such criminal justice reform legislation enacted into law this year", the letter said.
In the First Step Act, life sentences for people with a third drug felony are shortened, but only prospectively, and the almost 2,000 people now serving those same sentences will die in federal prison unless they receive presidential clemency.