By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate passed a sweeping criminal-justice bill Tuesday that comes in response to concerns that the war on drugs had led to the imprisonment of too many Americans for non-violent crimes without adequately preparing them for their return to society.
The Senate’s adoption of the bill by a vote of 87-12 culminates years of negotiations and gives President Donald Trump a policy victory. The House is expected to pass the bill this week, sending it to the president’s desk for his signature.
The bill would give judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and give a boost to work to rehabilitate prisoners. It would also reduce the life sentence of some drug offenders who have three convictions, or “three strikes,” to 25 years. Another provision would allow about 2,600 federal prisoners sentenced for crack-cocaine offenses before August 2010 the opportunity to petition for a reduced penalty.
“America is the greatest Country in the world and my job is to fight for ALL citizens, even those who have made mistakes,” Trump tweeted moments after the vote.
“This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it. In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved. I look forward to signing this into law!” Trump added.
The vote also thrilled Democrats. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said prisons are full of Americans who are struggling with mental illness and addiction, and who are overwhelmingly poor. He said the criminal justice system “feeds on certain communities and not on others,” and said the bill represents a step toward “healing” for those communities.
“Let’s make no mistake, this legislation, which is one small step, will affect thousands and thousands of lives,” Booker said.