Cory Booker and Bonnie Watson Coleman Take the Next Step
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) on Friday introduced a sweeping criminal justice bill that would make serious and substantial reforms to sentencing guidelines, prison conditions, law enforcement training, and re-entry efforts. The Next Step Act pushes for long sought-after reforms such as eliminating the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences, reducing mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses, and reinstating the right to vote in federal elections for the formerly incarcerated. Coleman said the bill “moves us toward comprehensive reform that addresses the consequences of the War on Drugs, helps provide pathways for people coming out of the criminal justice system, and provides for better training for law enforcement.” The measure would also include legislation Booker reintroduced last week that would end the federal prohibition of marijuana and expunge federal convictions for use and possession. The bill comes just months after Congress passed the bipartisan First Step Act into law. "It's been 75 days since the First Step Act was signed into law, and already, it's changing lives," Booker said. "But the First Step Act is just as its name suggests - it is one step on the long road toward fixing our broken criminal justice system. There's more that remains to be done so that our justice system truly embodies those words etched onto our nation's highest court â?“ 'equal justice under law.' That's exactly what the Next Step Act does.” Booker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was a key architect of the bill -- he was instrumental in adding key sentencing provisions to the package. He also successfully fought to include provisions that effectively eliminated the solitary confinement of juveniles under federal supervision and banned the shackling of pregnant women. More here.