Bonnie Watson Coleman Raúl Grijalva Want Criminal Justice Reform Bill to End Private Prisons
The criminal justice reform bill championed by Jared Kushner is picking up steam after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would allow a vote on the measure before the end of the year. It could be a first in the Trump era: the passage of a major piece of bipartisan legislation. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) want to ensure the final measure that reaches the House floor includes a ban on private prisons. “The use of private prisons erodes the public’s faith in the integrity of American sentencing policy, leaving them to wonder if the impetus for lengthy mandatory minimums, or forcibly detaining immigrant children, is an evidence-based solution, or just submission to the will of private companies profiting from those incidences of imprisonment,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “If this body is to consider a criminal justice reform bill, it must focus on ensuring sentences are fair. It must seek to remove bias. It must find ways to better rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for society.” Watson Coleman and Grijalva have both introduced bills to reform the prison, rehabilitation, and re-entry systems and ban private prisons, private detention centers, and contracts with private transportation companies to help end family detention. The bill still has another hurdle -- Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) who said he will not allow the bill to move to the floor by unanimous consent, preventing the legislation from moving quickly to a final vote. Read the full letter from Watson Coleman and Grijalva here.