I told you I would offer praise to Donald John Trump when the president merited it.
He has delivered an opportunity for me to make good on my pledge.
Trump today announced a sweeping reform of federal prison sentencing, the first such overhaul in a generation. The president called it a bipartisan agreement, although, as The Associated Press reported, there were no congressional Democrats present today at the announcement.
The deal, which must be approved by Congress, gives judges more flexibility in sentencing individuals convicted of federal crimes. The change appears to have the most impact on those convicted of drug offenses, where critics of the federal sentencing guidelines say result often in overly harsh sentences for non-violent offenders.
As the AP reported: House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called Trump’s announcement “an encouraging sign that we can achieve substantive reforms to our criminal justice system in this Congress.”
“Redemption is at the heart of the American Idea, and that’s what this is about,” he said.
Yes, redemption is critical in this proposal.
Prison sentencing reform has been of particular interest to one of the president’s key advisers, son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Senate leaders aren’t yet ready to climb aboard the prison reform bandwagon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to conduct a count of votes in the Senate once he sees the entire bill.
As a matter of principle, though, this loosening of federal prison sentencing is long overdue. Judges need some flexibility when issuing these sentences. They should be able to consider varying standards for sentencing the way state judges are entitled to do.
Well done, Mr. President.