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Thu Apr 28, 2016, 02:16 PM

Senators Try to Revive Criminal Justice Overhaul

Source: Associated Press

Senators Try to Revive Criminal Justice Overhaul

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON Apr 28, 2016, 1:53 PM ET

A bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation on Thursday to give judges more discretion in sentencing offenders, a renewed push to overhaul the nation's criminal justice system over objections from some conservatives and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Legislation approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last November would allow some nonviolent drug offenders to get reduced prison sentences and give judges greater discretion in sentencing. The legislation had rare bipartisan support in the Senate and backing from President Barack Obama, but it stalled earlier this year when some conservatives suggested that it could let violent offenders out of prison.

The bill's sponsors, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, denied that charge. But they have revised the bill anyway, hoping to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, that it has enough support to pass the Senate in a contentious election year.

The reworked bill announced Thursday would still give judges discretion to give lesser sentences than federal mandatory minimums and eliminate mandatory life sentences for three-time, nonviolent drug offenders. It also would create programs to help prisoners successfully re-enter society.

To address opponents' concerns about violent criminals, the new version would drop language that could have allowed reduced sentences for criminals who had possessed a firearm.

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Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/senators-revive-criminal-justice-overhaul-38740048

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