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Grassley, Other Senators Call For Sentencing Changes

chuck grassley
John Pemple/IPR file photo

Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is among those sponsoring legislation aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders.  Grassley appeared at a Washington news conference today with Senators from both parties.  He called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 a significant change in how the courts treat lower-level drug crimes.

“This is truly a landmark piece of legislation,” he said.  “It’s the biggest criminal justice reform in a generation. It’s the product of a very thoughtful, bipartisan deliberation by the Congress.”

The bill narrows the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals. It also give judges greater discretion in determining appropriate sentences.

Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Criminal justice summit in Cedar Falls

The bill’s introduction came as a day-long summit on criminal justice reform was being held in Cedar Falls.  One of the main speakers at the summit encouraged Iowans to take advantage of the many face-to-face opportunities they have with presidential candidates.

Civil rights activist and former Obama administration adviser Van Jones says criminal justice is a bi-partisan issue.

“You do it if you start telling these candidates they need to open their mouth and start talking about this,” he said, “you change the entire national debate you have the ability to start improving not only the system in Iowa but in the entire  United States and I hope you do it."

Jones appeared on the University of Northern Iowa campus with a number of state and national leaders including Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady.