Trump’s new criminal justice reform bill has notable bipartisan support
On Wednesday, President Trump expressed support for a bipartisan bill that would minimize prison sentences, ease mandatory minimums, and offer inmates services after their incarceration.
The bill was fiercely opposed by Jeff Sessions, Trump’s racist former Attorney General, who was fired last week for recusing himself from the Mueller investigation. It would not only reduce mandatory life sentences for some federal offenders, it would also grant judges more freedom in specific cases to trim higher minimum sentences.
One of the bill’s most significant potential impacts would be lessening the charges for inmates convicted of crack cocaine offenses. Historically, most inmates charged on crack cocaine offenses were Black and those convicted of powder cocaine offenses were white. The racial disparity was an integral part of the War on Drugs.
While a 2010 bill erased the racial disparity for the drug convictions, it did not make amends for the thousands imprisoned under the former law.
The Trump endorsed bill would also offer rehabilitation services such as providing inmates job-training opportunities after they serve their full sentences and allowing religious groups to play bigger roles in prison programs.
While the bill is a break away from Trump’s “tough on crime” Republican image, it garnered notable bipartisan support. On the right, both the Koch brothers, Republican Senator Mike Lee, and some police unions, voiced support. And on the left, Democrat Senator Richard J. Durbin and the American Civil Liberties Union also supported it. But notably, the bill is only a reform of a still ultimately anti-Black justice system, and makes no steps to dismantle it.
Currently, the bill requires a super majority of 60 votes on the Senate. The vocal bipartisan support pressures Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to introduce it to the Senate floor and vote on it by the end of the year.