Kansas City’s mayor is supporting federal criminal justice reforms, including one that has the backing of a Missouri senator.
Bills moving in Congress would reform sentencing laws, some of which were changed in the last couple of decades as part of the war on drugs, and would aim to reduce reentry into prisons. A revised sentencing reform act includes reforming mandatory minimum sentences for low-level offenses. It is co-sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and sponsored by national associations representing district attorneys, police chiefs, and sheriffs.
Criminal Justice Policy Director Todd Cox with the Center for American Progress says the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, versions of which have been introduced in the House and the Senate, has bipartisan support.
“[It would] take a number of important steps to end the unnecessarily harsh penalties and outcomes that characterize the now-discredited policies of the so-called, ‘tough on crime era.'”
Kansas City Mayor Sly James (D) credits Senator Blunt for co-sponsoring that proposal.
“I think that it’s great that we have a senator that’s willing to do that,” said James.
He compared the goal of another proposal, the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act, to that of some of Kansas City’s special courts that deal with drug offenses and certain crimes committed by veterans.
“We believe that the best way to reform the criminal justice system is to make sure that we have fewer and fewer people in it in the first place,” said James.
The Recidivism Risk Reduction Act cleared the House Judiciary Committee in April. A revised version of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act was introduced in April, and won more bi-partisan support with changes that had been made to the original version.