Don’t Let Criminal Justice Reform Fall Victim To Congress’ Calendar

With the House set to adjourn on Sept. 30 and the Senate set to follow suit a week later, a number of bills deserving passage look increasingly likely to become casualties of the race for the exits as lawmakers head home to campaign for re-election.

It would be especially unfortunate if three bills, in particular, were allowed to fall by the wayside, eclipsed by the annual mad dash to cobble together yet another budgetary continuing resolution before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30th.

The widow of opportunity for passage is rapidly closing on three criminal justice reform bills — the Sentencing Reform Act (H.R. 3713), the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act (H.R. 759) and the Criminal Code Improvement Act (H.R. 4002) — all of which have already passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously.

When was the last time the two parties agreed on anything, much less unanimously?

These three bills would reform a badly broken criminal justice system by, among other things, revamping a one-size-fits-all sentencing protocol, restoring due process, reversing the trend of over-criminalization in federal laws, and reforming the process by which ex-offenders re-enter civil society, making it easier for them to find the gainful employment they must have to stay on the right side of the law.