Letters to the Editor

Prison reform

There is a rare opportunity to pass bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate in 2016. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sponsored SB2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. This bill focuses on reducing sentences for people incarcerated in federal prisons for nonviolent drug-related crimes, not for those in state or local jails.

Currently, 15 Senate Democrats and 13 Republicans are cosponsors of the bill, including Washington’s Patty Murray. The costs of the federal prison system are too high. Taxpayers are footing the bill to keep non-violent drug offenders locked up for many years. The bill also covers training and re-entry programs to reduce recidivism rates.

Momentum has been building for a comprehensive criminal justice package aimed at easing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders, driven by an unusual right-left alliance that includes conservatives David H. and Charles G. Koch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Talk about bipartisan!

Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas), a former Texas judge and attorney general believes that the time has come to bring SB2123 to the Senate floor, but he recognizes that it must get more co-sponsors, from both sides of the aisle, before that step is taken. Please contact Senator Maria Cantwell and ask her to sign on as a co-sponsor of SB2123.

Micki Jackson, Bellingham

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