More on Sentencing and Criminal Justice “Reform”

CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES — Twice before (here and here) I’ve blogged about the highly questionable aspects of parallel sentencing reform bills that are before both houses of Congress. They apparently aren’t gaining quite the traction that they need to pass despite the support of heavyweights among both senators and representatives and — a more dubious thing by far, where garnering added congressional votes is concerned — the enthusiastic backing of the president, since this is on his bucket list.

So those legislative busy beavers have been laboring away, logrolling and back-scratching and whatever else they do to line up the votes, including even tossing in a few amendments here and there to get the deal done. One of them is to rename the bill, which is now called the “Full Employment for Criminal Defense Attorneys Act”. Okay, I admit I made that up. But it might as well be true. (Another nickname that’s been applied to the bill is the Criminal Alien Prison Release Act of 2016.)

The language in the provisions is becoming so arcane, so difficult to understand, and so vague in who is encompassed that it will be an open invitation to prisoners to institute litigation if they are denied the happy benefits of being released early under the new rules. Imagine all of the pro bono, and handwritten-on-toilet-paper pro se motions from prisoners that the courts will soon be swamped with!

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