Senators’ Bipartisan Unity on Senate Floor Renews Momentum for Justice Reform

From U.S. Justice Action Network. July 13, 2016

On Wednesday July 13 on the Senate floor, Republican and Democratic Senators renewed hope that criminal justice reform legislation will come to a vote this year.

Below are excerpts from speeches on the Senate floor:

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “Criminal justice reform doesn’t call on conservatives to abandon their principles. It calls on them to fight for them…. As all of you know, the road to reform is long and it’s full of setbacks and obstacles, and today’s movement for criminal justice reform is no exception. But so long as the people here today are involved in this effort, I’m confident that we can together succeed where our prisons today often fail. In preparing our offenders to reintegrate into their communities as productive and law-abiding citizens–as spouses, parents, neighbors, and employees– instead of career criminals.”

Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL): “What we’re setting out to do here is to right an injustice—an injustice that is filling federal prisons, sentencing individuals for lengthy sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. This is long overdue, and it’s something we need to do. If we did it, it would say to those across America who are asking if Congress is listening, if the Senate is awake to what’s going on in our country—it would say to them yes, on a bipartisan basis, these four senators and many more are prepared to bring reform to our criminal justice system. Will it solve all our problems? No, not at all, but it’s a significant step forward.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): “There are people that are frustrated. It is my hope when this comes to issue of criminal justice that are so obviously broken that we choose reform. That we choose healing. That we demonstrate unity. That on this issue, we bring forward a bipartisan bill that begins to cast away some of the darkness that hangs over our country with the light and the wisdom that’s in this bill, that reflects both sides of the political aisle and I believe reflects the best of who we are as a body.”

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “The people of this country want action to address deficiencies in the criminal justice system. This bill would make important but limited changes in the way that the federal government sentences those who commit crimes. We should take the bill up. We should debate the bill. And we should show the American people that we are willing to take on one of the most important domestic challenges facing the country and, most importantly because it’s bipartisan–which a lot of people don’t see this congress do very often–and because it’s bicameral.”

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