Labrador introduces sentencing reform - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Labrador introduces sentencing reform

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), along with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), introduced the "Smarter Sentencing Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill, introduced in the U.S. Senate last summer, would reduce mandatory federal sentences on select nonviolent drug offenses and would also allow some current federal inmates to seek reductions in their sentences.

"This bill is giving judges flexibility so they can treat people individually," Labrador said in a telephone interview with The Press on Tuesday.

This inflexibility is one issue Labrador and his colleagues on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are looking at in an effort to reduce government spending on the federal prison system.

"We are trying to figure out how sentencing guidelines are affecting that," Labrador said.

As of Sept. 28, there were approximately 211,000 inmates in the federal prison system - a 30-year growth of 500 percent. More than half of those are incarcerated for drug offenses, and the average annual cost of housing a federal inmate is approximately $29,000.

Under the "Smarter Sentencing Act," the 100,026 federal inmates would have a chance to have their sentences reduced but, according to the Senate version of the bill, "nothing in this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence pursuant to this section."

If the bill becomes law, after six months the attorney general will be required to submit an outline of how "the reduced expenditures on federal corrections and the cost savings resulting from this act will be used to help reduce overcrowding in the prisons, help increase proper investment in law enforcement and crime prevention and help reduce criminal recidivism, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the federal criminal justice spending" to congressional committees on judiciary.

Labrador estimates the act could potentially save up to $1 billion in costs and added that those savings would "hopefully" be used to reduce the deficit and help solve budget issues.

"I'm excited to present this bill," Labrador said. "It's something showing that we can work together in Washington, D.C."

By the numbers:

The Federal Prison System

Number of Inmates: 211,150

Number of Inmates serving time for drug offenses: 100,026

Average Annual Cost for Incarceration of Federal Inmate: $28,893.40

Average Age of Inmates: 40

93 percent of inmates are male

63 percent of inmates are serving between 3-15 years.

Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons (Numbers reflect count that was taken on Sept. 28, 2013)

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  • Righty-O posted at 2:31 pm on Thu, Oct 31, 2013.

    Righty-O Posts: 501

    Wow talk about a bunch of made up stats... but here are some old ones from 2007 and 1994. I wouldn't go as far as saying "Greater than 80%". It really depends on the crime. Love the what if story you made up though.


    About Recidivism...

    Looks more like 40-50% and mostly for drug users. Why should more tax money be funneled to private corps when they can be used to help treat the people and the addictions.

  • Kirby posted at 8:40 pm on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    Kirby Posts: 1684

    All wrong. Privately owned, for profit prisons, and below Chinese worker wages for the prisoners. Just think of the jobs coming back to America. It will be so lucrative we'll have to ban alcohol again to keep up with demand for more prisoners. Capitalism at it's finest.

  • greyhound2 posted at 12:49 pm on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    greyhound2 Posts: 897

    County and State property owners are filled up to the gills with government programs of being forced to pay or have property confiscated. In addition to about $30,000 per year to warehouse victim-less and non-violent offenders for the benefit of for-profit jails, they are also being sucked dry by illegal aliens who's only purpose is to steal jobs, drive down wages and bankrupt the social safety net including welfare, healthcare and education, also to launch two trillion dollar wars in countries which are of no threat of invasion to the United States and to funding programs for special interest groups who don't want to pay for their own programs themselves. Labrador is on the right track but doesn't go far enough (Upholding the rule of law is a tough job but that's what lawyers do).

  • Keven Johnson posted at 10:30 am on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    Keven Johnson Posts: 1490

    This is absolutely a step in the right direction; thank you Congressman Labrador for introducing this common sense bill. Ultimately, however, there needs to be NO penalty for victimless "crimes" which are not crimes at all. No victim = No Crime.

  • I Carry posted at 5:56 am on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    I Carry Posts: 559

    so lets look at this another way;
    The poor criminal gets a reduced sentence and hits the street. He then has a greater then 80% chance to re offend. That puts him/her right back into the system, but at the local level, where the local courts and jails have to contend with the criminal. That just shifts the $$$ trail to someone else.
    Take California for example; They are releasing 10,000 (?) three time losers out onto the street. In three months, there could be 2500 pregnancies (read no daddy, we pay), and within 6 months there is a likely hood of 6000-7000 back in the system. Add to that the carnage these upstanding folks will have in the citizens through burgs, carjackings, theft, etc. The real winner here in the attorney that will represent the poor criminal (follow the money trail).

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