GOP pushing bill to reduce jail time for armed robbers and drug-dealers

What often happens when Democrats run the government?  As Sideshow Bob says in the clip below:

I'll be back.  You can't keep the Democrats out of the White House forever!  And when they get in, I'm back on the streets, with all my criminal buddies!  Ba-hahahahaha!

But Sideshow Bob doesn't have to wait for Democrats to get back into power.  Republicans are working overtime to release him and his ilk from prison.  The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would reduce penalties for drug addicts, drug-dealers, and armed robbers and even release them from jail early.

A bipartisan criminal justice bill easily won approval from the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, amid a rare public clash on the plan between Chairman Chuck Grassley and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The legislation from Grassley (R-Iowa) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) cleared the Judiciary panel on a 16-5 vote.  Six of the panel's 10 Republicans joined every Democrat in backing it despite pointed opposition from Sessions that left Grassley infuriated.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) joined Grassley and the Democrats in supporting the bill.

What's in the bill?  You won't find that out from the Politico article, which talks about a "criminal justice overhaul"...without really mentioning what is being overhauled.

Here's how Chuck Grassley, the GOP chairman, describes the bill:

The enhanced mandatory minimums for prior drug felons are reduced: the three-strike penalty is reduced from life imprisonment to 25 years, and the 20-year minimum is reduced to 15 years.... The existing safety valve is expanded to include offenders with up to four criminal history points [formerly three].... In response to a Supreme Court decision, the bill clarifies that the enhanced mandatory minimum sentence for using a firearm during a crime of violence or drug crime is limited to offenders who have previously been convicted and served a sentence for such an offense.


Judges could retroactively reduce the sentences of those who received a lengthy prison term under these requirements, except for prisoners who had committed a violent felony.  Likewise, the bill would allow judges to reduce harsh sentences handed down for possession of crack cocaine by retroactively applying the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity between criminal penalties for crack and powder cocaine.  And courts would have flexibility to impose sentences lower than the minimum requirement in an increased number of drug cases.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposes this, but it is unclear if he will be able to prevent passage.  Why the great need to empty the jails?  The bill's sponsors stress the emphasis on "non-violent " offenders (except the armed robbers).  How would they like it if a "non-violent" offender sold drugs to kids in their neighborhood, or broke into their cars to steal their radios to buy money for crack?  Would they appreciate the criminals' non-violent nature then?  Probably not so much.

I thought Democrats were the ones who were supposed to be soft on crime.  But now, like big spending, like amnesty for illegal aliens, like Obamacare, Republicans are competing to out-Democrat the Democrats.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at