SJC Continues Its Work To Address The Nation’s Exploding Prison Population

WASHINGTON (Thursday, March 6, 2014) –The Senate Judiciary Committee continued its work to pass legislation aimed at reducing the nation’s exploding prison population on Thursday by approving a bill that addresses “back-end” sentencing reform for qualifying inmates.

Thursday’s bipartisan vote to approve the Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act comes weeks after the Committee approved a compromise agreement of the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would lower nonviolent drug mandatory sentences. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) commended the committee’s work to confront the unsustainable growth of the federal prison population.

“This growth means fewer resources for federal prosecutors, DEA agents, and FBI agents; it means less support for state and local law enforcement; and limited funding for crime prevention programs and victim services,” Leahy said.  “It means that if we do nothing—if we fail to address our burgeoning prison population—we will be cutting the very programs that help keep us safe.”

The legislation approved today is authored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and cosponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Leahy, a former prosecutor who chaired a hearing last year on mandatory minimum sentences, said that any efforts to address sentencing reform must include consideration of the Smarter Sentencing Act.  “This back-end compromise is not a substitute for taking action on the Smarter Sentencing Act,” he said.

The Committee also approved three judicial nominations on Thursday including one nominee, Robin Rosenbaum, who would fill an emergency vacancy on the 11th Circuit. The Committee also approved the nomination of Leslie Caldwell to be the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice.

Results and a webcast of Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online

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