Newly proposed bipartisan legislation has the potential to both decrease the overflowing prison population while continuing to reduce the crime rate.
Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective (SAFE) Justice Act yesterday during the House session. The bill proposes a federal overhaul that would revamp the current criminal justice system by introducing sentencing alternatives and increasing the use of rehabilitation services.
"Our criminal justice system is long overdue for reform," said Rep. Scott in a statement. "The SAFE Justice Act implements the successful, evidence-based reforms from the states and restores accountability, fairness and rationality to our federal criminal justice system."
The bill calls for prison alternatives for low-level offenders, a different court system that would hear mental health cases and the release of terminally ill prisoners. Additionally, the bill would require more training for correctional officers and introduce incentives for former inmates who completed rehabilitation programs, thus reducing the chance of recidivism.
So far, 20 representatives—10 Democrats and 10 Republicans—have voiced their support for the bill.
"We cannot allow our criminal justice system to remain on its current trajectory," Rep. Sensenbrenner said in a statement. "It’s not only fiscally unsustainable, but morally irresponsible. The states have been outperforming Congress on criminal justice reform for years, so today’s introduction of the SAFE Justice Act is a major step forward in implementing effective, meaningful reform on the federal level that will enact fairness in sentencing, reduce the taxpayer burden, and ensure the increased safety and prosperity of communities across the country."