U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley unveiled legislation today during a Washington, D.C. news conference that is aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders.
Senators from both parties joined Grassley to announce the “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015” which he says makes a significant change in how the courts treat lower-level drug crimes.
“This is truly a landmark piece of legislation. It’s the biggest criminal justice reform in a generation. It’s the product of a very thoughtful, bipartisan deliberation by the Congress,” Grassley says. The bill narrows the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals. It also give judges greater discretion in determining appropriate sentences.
Grassley is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and says the bill guarantees the most serious drug traffickers and violent criminals will remain locked away. “But for the first time, we’re cutting back many of the most severe mandatory minimums so that they apply more fairly,” according to Grassley. The act grants judges more discretion in handing out sentences for lower-level crimes and addresses rehabilitation programs to help former inmates reenter society.
The Iowa Senator says this announcement is the result of a lot of hard work. “There are things in here that each of us like. There are items that each of us would rather do without,” Grassley says, “but this is how things work here in the Congress. Grassley admits he had to change his mind on the legislation.
“Well, I think what brought me along was the ability of people to look at things other than just cutting minimums in half. We’ve had an opportunity to reduce some minimums, but on some issues we had an opportunity to increase,” Grassley explains.
Grassley says if you look at his past statements and statements he made when he took over as chair of the Judiciary Committee, he has been open to reaching a deal on the issue. He says they now need to discuss the issue and determine if there needs to be a hearing on the bill.