In an October 7, 2017 press release, Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Jason Lewis (R-NM), announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation “aimed at safely reining in the size and associated costs of the federal criminal code and prison system.” According to the press release:
H.R. 4261, the Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act takes a broad-based approach to improving the federal sentencing and corrections system, spanning from sentencing reform to release policies. The legislation, which is inspired by the successes of states across the country, will break the cycle of recidivism, concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals, increase the use of evidence-based alternatives to incarceration, curtail over-criminalization, reduce crime, and save money.
The SAFE Justice Act will:
- Reduce recidivism by –
- incentivizing completion of evidence-based prison programming and activities through expanded earned time credits;
- implementing swift, certain, and proportionate sanctions for violations of supervision; and
- offering credits for compliance with the conditions of supervision.
- Concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals by –
- focusing mandatory minimum sentences on leaders and supervisors of drug trafficking organizations;
- safely expanding the drug trafficking safety valve (an exception to mandatory minimums) for qualified offenders; and
- creating release valves for lower-risk geriatric and terminally-ill offenders.
- Increase use of evidence-based sentencing alternatives by –
- encouraging greater use of probation and problem-solving courts for appropriate offenders; and
- creating a performance-incentive funding program to better align the interests of the Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Probation Offices.
- Curtail overcriminalization by –
- requiring regulatory criminal offenses to be compiled and published for the public;
- ensuring fiscal impact statements are attached to all future sentencing and corrections proposals; and
- charging the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Administrative Office of the Courts with collecting key outcome performance measures.
- Reduce crime by –
- investing in evidence-based crime prevention initiatives; and
- increasing funding for community based policing and public safety initiatives.