- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

While lawmakers on Capitol Hill can’t seem to get behind a comprehensive immigration bill, they do see bipartisan support for criminal justice reform.

Sens. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and Judiciary Committee Chairman, Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat and the party’s second-ranking member in the Senate, are hoping President Trump will get behind their bipartisan legislation to reform prisons and alter mandatory prison sentencing.

The two lawmakers sat down with reporters Tuesday to push their legislation in hopes it would catch the attention of the White House.

Their bill would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for low level, nonviolent offenders and would also include programs to help low-risk inmates return to the community. Judges would also have discretion to lower sentences if the defendants cooperate with police during an investigation.

The legislation does, however, implement mandatory sentences for terrorism, domestic violence crimes and offenses related to the opioid crisis.

“This is where we are already together,” said Mr. Grassley, noting the bill passed out of committee by a 16 to 5 vote.

“We have one-fourth of the Senate already signed up on it,” he added. “This is an opportunity for the president to have a win.”

Mr. Durbin suggested Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose father served time in prison for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering, may back their proposal.

“The first I ever met Jared Kushner, he started talking about his father’s experience in prison. Clearly, it had an impact on him” Mr. Durbin said. “I know his intentions are good.”

Earlier this year the House passed a bill to reform the federal prison system with overwhelming bipartisan support, but Mr. Grassley said reforming the prisons must also be done by making changes to criminal sentencing.

He said the taxpayer money saved from the other reforms is needed in order to make changes to the prisons.

It is unclear when or if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, plans to bring their legislation to the full Senate floor for a vote.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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