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October 23, 2013

Federal sentencing reform: an unlikely Senatorial love story and a Booker double-dose?

O-PAUL-BOOKER-facebookThe silly title of this post is my first reaction to seeing this new report in the Wall Street Journal about the plans and priorities of US Senator-elect from New Jersey Cory Booker.  The piece is headlined "On Booker's To-Do List: Revamp Drug Laws; New Jersey's Senator-Elect Face Challenges Once He Takes Office," and here are the excerpts that caught my special attention:

Senator-elect Cory Booker sees revamping drug policies as one of the principal issues he can champion once he takes office in Washington, D.C., and he believes he can draw bipartisan support on the issue—even among those who supported his Republican challenger in the special-election race.

Mr. Booker said he has had initial conversations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about his opinions on the issue—such as eliminating mandatory minimum-sentencing laws for nonviolent offenders and reducing incarceration rates as a way to help save tax dollars.

In the special-election race that wrapped up last week, Mr. Booker campaigned on working across the aisle despite the bitter partisan divide in Washington. Drug policy could be one area where he finds some success, according to those who work in the field. He singled out Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian, as someone who sees eye-to-eye with him on the issue.

"I want to work with him," said Mr. Booker, about Mr. Paul, during an interview Tuesday at his campaign office in the city he led as mayor for seven years. "I take everybody in the Senate as sincere people who want to make a difference."

Mr. Paul — a tea-party leader seen as a possible 2016 Republican presidential contender — endorsed Mr. Booker's challenger, Steve Lonegan, in the Oct. 16 Senate election. But a spokeswoman for Mr. Paul on Tuesday welcomed Mr. Booker's gesture.

"Senator Paul would be pleased to work with any member who believes that mandatory minimum sentencing is unnecessary," the spokeswoman said. "He looks forward to Senator Booker's assistance on this important issue."

I am very pleased to see Booker talking up federal sentencing reform as he heads inside the Beltway, and I am especially excited to see him calling for a partnership with Senator Rand. Indeed, if the two of them truly seek to make sentencing reform a priority in the weeks and months ahead, the momentum toward reform may really become unstoppable.

And, of course, the notable irony of another person with the surname Booker shaking up federal sentencing perhaps mertis some special attention by clever wanna-be-headline-writing commentators.

Some recent and older related posts:

October 23, 2013 at 06:14 PM | Permalink

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Comments

From the article: "Mr. Booker said he has had initial conversations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about his opinions on the issue—such as eliminating mandatory minimum-sentencing laws for nonviolent offenders and reducing incarceration rates as a way to help save tax dollars."

Well that's cool. Notice anything missing?

How 'bout what Reid said in response? Anyone wanna guess why that got left in the round file?

While we're at it, anyone wanna guess why Leahy/Rand isn't even on the Senate floor after all this time and hype?

As to the supposed "unstoppable" momentum of drug "reform" legislation, I'll bet $100 here and now that the Leahy/Paul bill never becomes law, such is my view of its "unstoppability." (This bet applies only to people who give their full, real names; I want to be able to collect).

Any takers?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 23, 2013 6:30:39 PM

Since I don't think Paul and Leahy expect their bill to pass as is, I don't know how courageous a bet that is.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Oct 23, 2013 8:58:40 PM

Thinkaboutit --

I'm not testing anyone's courage. I just want the money.

I keep hearing about all this "unstoppable momentum," but when I propose a bet about what is easily the most prominent bill out there, co-sponsored no less by the Chairman of Judiciary and a possible Republican Presidential candidate, it gets real quiet.

Still, I'm willing to listen to a proposal. Is there ANY variant of Leahy/Paul you are willing to specify, and then to bet me $100 that it will pass this Congress?

P.S. The real name requirement is waived as to you, since I know it already. And there's no question you're a stand-up guy.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 23, 2013 10:53:05 PM

Ha, thanks. No, I think the only thing that can get through will look more like Durbin-Lee. (By the way, I only have two months left to fight here before I have to report to federal prison. I am sure I will have an even different perspective for you when I am done.)

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Oct 23, 2013 10:59:41 PM

"... minimum-sentencing laws for nonviolent offenders and reducing incarceration rates as a way to help save tax dollars."

Al Capone killed hundreds, a mass murdering real badass. Adjudicated charge, non-violent tax evasion.

As a taxpayer, I willingly support spending $50,000 a year to house the prisoner in comfort in prison, away from my neighborhood. There he will be committing 200 violent and non-violent crimes each year alive and loose, causing $millions in damages, making life toxic for the neighbors, eliminated $billions in real estate value, generating $millions in direct costs of trauma care, social services for his bastard spawn, not to mention the fear induced in everyone around, forcing them to think about survival, and not about thriving, and growing the local economy. Inner cities should have the highest real estate values, being within walking distance to downtown jobs. Thanks to the lawyer client some of it cannot be sold even if you pay the buyer to take them

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 24, 2013 1:54:43 AM

WWTBD (What Would T-Bone Do)?

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Oct 24, 2013 3:10:25 PM

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