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Cornyn Statement Following White House Meeting Addressing Prison Reform

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WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today released the following statement after today’s meeting at the White House on prison reform:

“I commend the President and his Administration for convening this important meeting to examine ways we can reform our prison system and better prepare low-risk offenders to reenter society. Building off successful state-level reforms in Texas, I have introduced the CORRECTIONS Act that will help lower recidivism rates, save taxpayer dollars, and reduce crime.  Moving forward, I stand ready to work with the President and my colleagues towards a commonsense solution.”

Background:

Last year, Senators Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers In Our National System (CORRECTIONS) Act, which is based on successful criminal justice reforms from states like Texas and Rhode Island that have lowered recidivism rates, reduced crime, and saved taxpayer dollars.  Specifically, the CORRECTIONS Act addresses the following areas:

  • Risk Assessment: The bill requires the Department of Justice to develop risk assessment tools that will assess the recidivism risk of all eligible offenders.
  • Reducing Prison Spending: The bill focuses limited Bureau of Prison resources on those most likely to commit future crimes and shifts lower-risk inmates to less restrictive conditions, reducing prison costs and freeing up resources for law enforcement.
  • Expanded Recidivism-Reduction Programming: The bill requires the Bureau of Prisons to provide evidence-based recidivism reduction programming to all eligible offenders.
  • Partnerships with Faith-Based and Community-Based Organizations: To promote efficient and effective recidivism reduction programming, the Bureau of Prisons must partner with private organizations, including non-profits, to enhance existing efforts.
  • Credit toward Prerelease Custody: To incentivize inmates to reduce their risk profile, the bill allows eligible inmates who successfully complete recidivism reduction programs to earn credit toward time in pre-release custody, but excludes serious violent criminals.
  • Improving Prisoner Reentry: The bill requires the federal probation office to begin planning for eligible offenders’ reentry at the beginning of the inmate’s sentence and requires the Justice Department to implement reentry pilot projects across the country.
  • Correctional Officer Self-Protection Provision:  The bill requires the warden of every federal prison facility to provide a secure storage facility for guards to secure firearms.
  • National Criminal Justice Commission:  The bill creates a national commission to review every aspect of the nation’s criminal justice system, which was last done in 1965.

Endorsements and Support for the CORRECTIONS Act

The CORRECTIONS Act of 2017 is endorsed and supported by a wide array of interest groups and organizations, including Prison Fellowship, Faith & Freedom Coalition, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the International Community Corrections Association, the American Federation of Government Employees (Prison Guards Union), the National Criminal Justice Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Major City Chiefs Police Association, the International Chiefs of Police, the Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union, and Right on Crime.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.

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