Senate, House Bills Advance Despite Law-Enforcement Pushback
By Derek Gilna
Only good news came out of the “mark-up” session on the Senate bill for prisoner relief, after it was approved as expected by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Those opposing the bill, such as Republican Presidential Candidate and
Senator Ted Cruz, (who took time out from trying to shut down the government
over Planned Parenthood), complained about the fact that approximately 13,000
additional federal prisoners will be released in the next year. Former federal
prosecutor Senator Ted Sessions also opposed any reductions (Surprise,
However, these actions were expected by the bill’s sponsors, and easily turned aside. Senators Grassley and Durbin and their allies supporting the bill are fully prepared to beat back the delaying tactics usually used to oppose these measures. The leadership of both parties stands firmly behind the bill and I am still expecting passage sooner rather than later. There is no question that President Obama will sign the legislation when it hits his desk.
We know that the bill still does not go far enough, and has little to say about white-collar prisoners, but a new coalition is banding together to propose the next generation of reform after the Senate and House bills pass. These proposals are the next logical step in this process, and would drastically reduce the number of people coming into the system. More attention will also be paid to bills already introduced to give the currently confined a pathway to earlier release by programming and “good behavior.” Other advocates are proposing legislation to limit the immunity of prosecutors who violate discovery rules and commit other misconduct, as advocated by some federal appellate court judges. There is a lot making its way through the pipeline.
For those of you not wanting to wait for legislative relief, the roadmap for relief is clear given existing case law and some exciting cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. We would be happy to help you explore your options.
Federal Legal Center, Inc.
Derek A. Gilna, JD, Director