Sessions ‘uneasy’ about parts of Trump’s criminal justice reform bill — ‘Some of the sentence reductions went too far’
Sessions was asked by Yellowhammer News what he thought of the bill. At first, the candidate for his old seat in the U.S. Senate said he supported parts of the bill, but he also told the assembled reporters, “I did think some of the sentence reductions probably went too far.”
“I was uneasy about that,” he added on the question of some of the sentencing reforms.
Sessions, who was speaking at a press conference flanked by law enforcement officials who had just endorsed him, praised some aspects of the bill that is formally known as the First Step Act.
“I supported much in that bill, particularly funds for education pre-release, preparation for people to be more successful when they leave,” Sessions remarked.
“There were some reductions in sentences that were legitimate. I previously supported two bills that reduced crack-cocaine sentences,” Sessions intoned.
Sessions’ support for crack-cocaine sentence reduction presumably refers to his vote in favor of bills like the Obama-era Fair Sentencing Act that alleviated disparities in the penalty for possessing crack-cocaine and powder cocaine.
“People shouldn’t serve any more time than necessary,” Sessions told the audience.
One of the statistics Sessions cited as relevant was the pre-existing drop in federal prison populations from 2013-2018, the year the bill was passed by Congress. In 2013, the federal government held 219,298 incarcerated people, and by 2018, it had reduced that number to 179,898, an 18% reduction in the five years before the First Step Act became law.
In just a few months after the First Step Act was made law, the federal government released an additional 3,100 inmates due to a change in how good behavior is calculated.
Proponents of the bill point to the immense bipartisan support which the bill garnered in Congress and the fact that America still has a higher percentage of citizens in prison than other developed countries.
“I hope we don’t find that to be true,” Sessions said of his suspicion that the sentencing reforms went too far. “We’ll see how it plays out.”
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.