top of page

Welcome to Crime and Justice News

Advocates Call Limited Criminal Justice Reform Possible In Congress

Some criminal justice reform advocates say there are opportunities in Congress to pass limited legislation to make the justice system less punitive. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) andSen. Lindsey Graham (SC), the panel's top Republican, have introduced a bill to eliminate the disparity in federal sentencing for trafficking crack and cocaine. The bill passed the House on an overwhelming bipartisan vote in 2021 but died in the Senate. Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), David Trone (D-MD), John Rutherford (R-Fla.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) started a task force last month to promote legislation that would ease the barriers to prisoners reentering society when their sentences are up, the Washington Post reports.

“There’s a ton of Republicans that just want to do the right thing,” Trone said before he spoke at a reception hosted by the conservative R Street Institute to build support for the legislation. “And there’s a minority of Republicans who live on the rhetoric of, ‘Let’s stop everything.’” It's too early to say whether any of the bills will pass. Jason Pye, who lobbied for the First Step Act while he was vice president of legislative affairs at the conservative FreedomWorks, believes Republicans could move legislation once House Republicans tire of passing other bills that stand no chance of clearing the Democratic-held Senate. “As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the few areas where there is not only bipartisan consensus, but support [from across the Republican] conference to do something,” said Pye, now director of rule-of-law initiatives at the Due Process Institute. Some Democrats want more than incremental progress on remaking the criminal justice system, especially after Monday’s school shooting in Nashville that left six dead.


Recent Posts

See All


A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

bottom of page