Why you should care if Congress finally passes criminal justice reform

Criminal Justice Reform

You may wonder why Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, is putting such a major effort into passing bipartisan criminal justice reform. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been working with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois for over four years. They have good reasons that are worth considering, even for those of us without much cause to think about life in the slammer.

The compromise legislation, called the First Step Act, works toward reform on several fronts. One of the most controversial issues involves easing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent federal crimes, mostly drug offenses. It also aims to eliminate barriers for ex-convicts to return to society, find work and support themselves and their families.

How can letting criminals out of prison keep you safer? That’s a hard concept. Sen. Mike Lee, a conservative Republican from Utah, casts it as a smarter use of scarce resources. “This bill would focus our criminal justice and prosecutorial resources where they need to be, which is on those who present the greatest threat of violence, the greatest risk of recidivism,” he said during the Washington Post conference.

Read the full story at the Des Moines Register