Criminal justice reform bill hinges on amendments

CongressA criminal justice reform bill cleared a major hurdle Monday when the Senate voted 82-12 to end debate, clearing the way for senators to try to pass the bill as soon as today, The Hill reports. However, its fate rests on several amendments sought by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton. Politico says the changes Cotton is pushing along with Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) could derail the “fragile compromise” with Democrats on the bill. Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii say Cotton’s amendments undo the bill’s provisions and are designed to kill it. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), a former federal prosecutor, calls the Republican amendments a “poison pill.” President Trump has endorsed the measure, which is designed to reform prisons and sentencing laws.

The new wave of criminal justice reform

defendant acquitted felony courtroom verdict

A bipartisan criminal justice reform bill backed by President Trump may yet have a difficult time being passed by Congress, according to CNBC. The bill could save the federal government millions of dollars by reducing thousands of prison sentences. The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, contributed to a column in USA Today backing criminal justice reform. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stands in the bill’s way. Time notes that the bill has strong conservative support, including the backing of billionaire Charles Koch. The New York Times editorial board has also expressed support.

Meanwhile, across the country, a new wave of district attorneys is bringing about criminal justice reform on the local level. The Washington Post profiles district attorneys like Mark Gonzalez of Corpus Christi, Texas, a self-styled “Mexican biker lawyer” who’s one of several progressive prosecutors pushing for reform. The Post also mentions Wesley Bell of Ferguson, Missouri, Larry Krasner of Philadelphia and Kim Foxx of Chicago as some of the district and state attorneys seeking to overhaul the criminal justice system.