Critics of criminal justice bill make final push for 'poison pill' changes

Critics of criminal justice bill make final push for 'poison pill' changes

The House (which passed a somewhat different version of the bill earlier the year) is expected to rubber-stamp the Senate action later this week.

Additionally, the bill expands eligibility for elderly or terminally ill prisoners to secure compassionate release.

But, he added, he still believed the legislation is "deeply unwise" and would result in the "early release from prison thousands of serious, repeat and potentially violent felons over the next few months".

In addition to giving judges greater latitude in sentencing for some nonviolent offenses, the First Step Act also seeks to beef up anti-recidivism programming for the nation's prison population. There were about 181,000 federal inmates as of December 13, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

-Encourages prisoners to participate in programs created to reduce the risk of recidivism, with the reward being an earlier release to a halfway house or home confinement to finish out their sentence. The measure heads to the House next where it will likely have the votes to pass, before heading to the president's desk to be signed into law. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pleaded with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it up for a vote.

Sen. Dick Durbin of IL calls the proposals "poison pills" that would unravel bipartisan support for the bill.

The president has been in a stand-off with Democrats over funding for a wall along the country's southern border, which has prohibited lawmakers from reaching an agreement on a spending bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday he would be introducing a short-term funding bill that would fund the government until February 8, as funding is set to expire Friday. The credits are deducted from a sentence to allow for early release. "Congratulations to the Senate on the bi-partisan passing of a historic Criminal Justice Reform Bill", he tweeted. He said about 10 percent of victims choose not to be notified because of the trauma involved in revisiting the crime.

Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Brennan Center's Justice Program, said in a statement that Cotton and Kennedy's amendments were "meant to sabotage the bipartisan compromise FIRST STEP represents".

Sasse also introduced a measure to address vague language in the bill about prisoners' "productive activities". We should be protecting victims of crimes and not the offenders who committed the crimes. "In short, the First Step Act flunks their basic test to protect public safety".

A coalition of criminal justice, civil liberties, and conservative groups-such as Freedom Works, American For Prosperity, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums-went on a lobbying blitz Monday to urge senators to vote down the Cotton and Kennedy amendments.

Included among those concerns are law enforcement groups have reservations that should be heard, The Hill reported.

The bill's backers, though, said his changes would have scuttled the bipartisan deal, cutting too many people out of the chance to score early release.

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