WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the midst of growing bipartisan recognition that America must confront our overcriminalization problem, a group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress have launched an effort to comprehensively address public safety and our broken criminal justice system.
U.S. Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) will serve as co-chairs of the newly-formed Congressional Criminal Justice and Public Safety Caucus, a bipartisan membership organization dedicated to educating the public and Members of Congress on crime mitigation, rehabilitation, community collaboration, reform of the prison system, and the advancement of safety and justice in the United States.
Rep. Chaffetz said: “The price of maintaining the largest inmate population in the world is high, both for our communities and for our pocketbooks. Working together across the aisle, I believe we can find common ground on proven strategies to administer justice, rehabilitate offenders, reduce recidivism, and cut costs.”
Rep. Labrador said: “Since I took office, I’ve made it a top priority to improve our criminal justice system. This new caucus will accelerate bipartisan momentum for comprehensive reform. Working with colleagues in Congress, the White House and advocates of reform spanning the political spectrum, I believe we have an excellent chance of passing historic legislation in the 114th Congress.”
Rep. Richmond said: “The time has long since come to fix our badly broken criminal justice system. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and ruined millions of lives with no clear indication that we’re more safe as a result. Members on both sides of the aisle have come together to end the era of mass incarceration. This caucus will continue that spirit of bipartisanship and work to develop and advance real solutions to how justice is served in this country.”
Rep. Jeffries said: “America’s criminal justice system wastes taxpayer dollars, hurts our economic productivity and has unnecessarily devastated countless families. Fixing our badly broken system is an urgent challenge this Congress must confront. The bipartisan caucus will be an important vehicle to generate legislative action that saves money, makes us safer and leads to more equitable criminal justice policies.”
The bipartisan caucus will work with experts and policy makers from the Administration, the judiciary, advocates from throughout the ideological spectrum and community stakeholders in order to facilitate more informed debate and legislative action on criminal justice and public safety issues. It will also seek to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the community in ways that benefit all parties, including by increasing training and promoting positive policing interactions.
At the outset of the 114th Congress, the four chairmen introduced the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act, a bill designed use risk assessment tools to reduce recidivism, lower the crime rate and reduce the amount of money spent on the federal prison system. Reps. Chaffetz and Jeffries also introduced HR 760, the Bureau of Corrections Renaming Act, legislation that would simply rename the “Bureau of Prisons” – under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice – the “Bureau of Corrections”.