But, here is a pledge I've made throughout this campaign, and it's really not a very radical pledge. When we have more people in jail, disproportionately African American and Latino, than China does, a communist authoritarian society four times our size. Here's my promise, at the end of my first term as president we will not have more people in jail than any other country. We will invest in education, and jobs for our kids, not incarceration and more jails.
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"Over the course of the last year in putting together this bill, we listened to a diverse set of views and came up with a consensus piece that passed the committee by a 15-5 vote. Now, as we look to floor consideration, we're again listening to colleagues, including those who have well-documented concerns with certain aspects of the bill. We're working to find a path forward that addresses some of those concerns while maintaining both the core principles and significance of the bill and the broad bipartisan support that the bill has already garnered. How those changes will look is still being determined, but we're moving ahead to get a bill ready to be considered on the Senate floor."
There are thousands of inmates -- 11,524, to be exact -- who would be eligible for resentencing under the Senate bill. But not all of them are convicted of a violent crime, and it's unclear exactly how many of these inmates would actually get their sentences shortened if the bill became law. There are 3,433 inmates in the two sections that include people who may have been convicted of a violent felony. Even then, those inmates may be there because of a sweeping law that has been found to impose excessive sentences.
Cotton is of the opinion that drug traffickers are still "violent felons," even people who are not technically convicted of a crime of violence. We can't fact-check opinions, but we'll note that "violent felons" generally conjures the image of a murderer, not a drug dealer caught illegally possessing a gun -- or just a bullet.
Cotton's claim minimizes the provisions in the bill that target actual violent offenders while alleviating excessive sentences for low-level drug offenders. The bill is intended to address over-incarceration of low-level, nonviolent offenders. Even if all eligible inmates petition for a reduced sentence, the ultimate decision is with a federal judge. Cotton creates a misleading impression of this complex legislation, and earns Two Pinocchios.
Now let's fact-check the Post. Three Pinocchios.
MADDOW: Senator Sanders, you have singled out the death penalty, and Senator Clinton's support for the death penalty, as an issue that makes it hard to consider as progressive in your mind...
SANDERS: ... Look, I hear what the Secretary said, and I understand, but look, there are -- all of us know that we have seen in recent years horrible, horrible crimes. It's hard to imagine how people can do, bomb, and kill 168 people in Oklahoma City, or do the Boston Marathon bombing, but this is what I believe, and for a couple of reasons.
Number one, too many innocent people, including minorities, African Americans, have been executed when they were not guilty. That's number one. We have to be very careful about making sure about that.
Too many? Name one, Senator Sanders. Name one demonstrably innocent person executed in the modern capital punishment era (1976+).
For many years, Roger Coleman was the poster boy as the absolutely, incontrovertibly innocent person wrongfully executed. Then improved DNA technology conclusively proved him guilty. Oops. Then they latched on Cameron Willingham, a case where the arson evidence was shown to be inconclusive. (Contrary to myth, the arson evidence does not affirmatively show accidental fire.) When AP contacted the jurors, every one they could find said that would have made no difference, because it never was the forensic evidence that convinced them in the first place. The most damning evidence against Willingham was his own words and actions, all of which still stand.
"We have to be very careful about making sure about that." Correct. And we are.
Until sentencing "reformers" are willing to come clean about specifically how much violence the country should tolerate from the thousands of felons they aim to release early, Congress should refuse to move on this bill. It's bad enough to buy a pig in a poke, but worse still once you already know the pig can kill you.[S]entencing changes are triggering the biggest -- and most vivid -- rift among Republicans. Cotton and other Republicans pointed to a triple murder earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio, in which a man is accused of killing an ex-girlfriend and two of her children. The suspect, Wendell Callahan, had his prison sentence on drug charges reduced twice for a total of more than four years, according to The Columbus Dispatch....Cotton isn't alone. Other Senate Republicans, including Sens. Jim Risch of Idaho and David Perdue of Georgia, also registered their strong opposition during the lunch, even as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) vigorously defended the bill, which he helped negotiate.
The one criminal case taken up is the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell. The question presented is:
Under the federal bribery statute, Hobbs Act, and honest-services fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. §§ 201, 1346, 1951, it is a felony to agree to take "official action" in exchange for money, campaign contributions, or any other thing of value. The question presented is whether "official action" is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether the jury must be so instructed; or, if not so limited, whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional.The Court declined a second question on jury voir dire and pretrial publicity.
Also taken up was law-enforcement-related civil case, Manuel v. City of Joliet, No. 14-9496. "The question presented is whether an individual's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure continues beyond legal process so as to allow a malicious prosecution claim based upon the Fourth Amendment."
A long orders list will likely be issued Tuesday. (Monday is a government holiday.) If the usual pattern holds, all the grants are on today's list, and Tuesday's list will be all denials.