Rep. Raúl Labrador has joined House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Mich., in introducing the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, one of several criminal justice reform initiatives backed by the Idaho Republican.
Labrador is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the bill, which is companion legislation to sentencing provisions in a bill introduced last week by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
“After five years of working for common-sense reforms, I’m gratified to see our efforts bear fruit as support builds for historic change,” Labrador said after a news conference with Goodlatte, Conyers and other sponsors. “Our bill provides tough punishment for the most serious offenders, while reducing sentences for those worthy of a second chance. These reforms promise a more just society and I am proud join the effort.”
Labrador’s bipartisan bills in the 114th Congress also include: co-authorship of the Smarter Sentencing Act; lead Republican co-sponsorship of the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Effective Justice Act; and co-sponsorship of the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act.
“Our first obligation is to ensure public safety,” Labrador said. “But as a conservative, I am troubled by the fact that with 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s inmates. We must be mindful of our Constitutional principles that guard against government depriving us of our liberty.”
Labrador co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Criminal Justice and Public Safety Caucus. In February, he was among 16 key lawmakers invited to the White House to discuss justice reform. At that meeting, President Obama expressed support for the Smarter Sentencing Act.
In the 113th Congress, Labrador was a member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Overcriminalization Task Force, which held 10 hearings over 18 months, collecting examples of state reforms that protect public safety while containing costs. Since 1980, the federal imprisonment rate has increased 518 percent, while spending has jumped 595 percent. Meanwhile, 32 states have reduced both crime and imprisonment rates over the past five years.
“States are the laboratories of democracy and we are wise to learn from their successes,” Labrador said.
An attorney before his election to Congress in 2010, Labrador also pressed for reforms during his four years in the Idaho Legislature.
To learn more, visit the Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform page.