Possible election fall-out

Disturbing article from the excellent new The Marshall Project: Right and Left Unite on Drug Sentencing. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

There’s a big bi-partisan push for sentencing reform. What could go wrong is that Senator Charles Grassley will now be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Current mandatory minimum sentences play a vital role in reducing crime,” Grassley said in May, in one of several statements explaining his opposition to the bill. […]

So far, Grassley hasn’t indicated he’s changing his mind. “I’ve raised concerns about people pushing importing [sic] heroin into the country, of having their sentence reduced, I think you gotta’ be very careful what sort of a signal you’re sending,” he recently told Slate.

Grassley has repeatedly highlighted what he calls a “heroin epidemic” as a reason to preserve mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. But federal data on heroin use does not support those claims.

His press secretary says he has “not yet laid out an agenda” on criminal justice for the coming session. In a statement announcing his new position, Grassley highlighted his continued focus on strict enforcement of drug laws. “He’s a true advocate for victims of crime and is a leader in the fight to keep illegal drugs out of the hands of young people.”

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but it’s a real concern.

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