This week I attended a bipartisan meeting at the White House to discuss the need to modernize and reform our criminal justice system.
President Obama invited me and several of my colleagues in Congress – from both parties – to join him and Vice President Biden for a conversation on how we can work together to address the challenges of over-criminalization, over-incarceration, and over-sentencing in America.
After a generation of tough-on-crime policies helped make communities around the country safer, many of our federal criminal justice laws are now out of date, counterproductive, and unfair.
Laws that once were essential to community safety have now become instrumental in community breakdown. Today, we have far too many reformed offenders languishing behind bars, while their families and neighborhoods are left with too few fathers, uncles, and older brothers.
Given the immense financial and human cost of our broken status quo, I was pleased to join President Obama and my congressional colleagues for a dialogue to find bipartisan solutions to these problems.
One of the solutions we discussed was the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill I recently introduced in the Senate with my colleague Senator Dick Durbin, a liberal Democrat from Illinois, which would modernize our federal drug sentencing laws and provide immediate relief to an overburdened prison system.
The Smarter Sentencing Act is a common-sense reform that will give judges the flexibility and discretion they need to impose stiff sentences on the most serious drug lords and cartel bosses, while enabling nonviolent offenders to return more quickly to the families and communities that need them.
I’m hopeful that the Senate will take up this bipartisan piece of legislation sometime soon, and in the meantime I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues across the aisle to find sensible solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems.
After our visit to the White House, Senator Cory Booker joined me on the Doug Wright Show to discuss the meeting and also to discuss why this is an issue that is uniting Democrats and Republicans. You can listen to the interview below: