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Senators propose sentencing reform to reduce prison overcrowding

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U.S. senators on Thursday proposed a bipartisan plan for reforming criminal justice, aiming to ditch harsh sentencing laws that lead to prison overcrowding and to limit solitary confinement for juveniles.

The legislative proposal would end the national “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” law, which mandates life sentences for people convicted of a violent felony after two or more previous convictions, including drug crimes.

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The proposal would also give judges more leeway in sentencing low-level offenders, and improve prisoner rehabilitation programs. But under the measure, enhanced prison penalties could still be applied to offenders with prior convictions for serious violent offences and serious drug felonies, a Senate fact sheet said.

The legislation was introduced by nine senators from both political parties, including Republican Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.

A separate bill in the House of Representatives would also reduce use of mandatory sentences.

The outlook for passage of either measure was uncertain.

President Barack Obama, who also favors criminal justice reform, welcomed the legislation.

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“The broad and impressive bipartisan coalition that created the bill makes me optimistic that members on both sides of the aisle, in both houses, will continue to work together on this critical issue in the coming weeks and months and put a meaningful criminal justice reform bill on my desk before the end of this year,” Obama said in a statement.

Durbin said that while mandatory minimum sentences were once seen as a strong deterrent, they have too often been unfair, and led to overcrowded prisons and tighter budgets.

The drumbeat for reform has grown as U.S. crime rates have drastically declined over the past two decades. Lengthy prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders are increasingly seen as racially imbalanced and disproportionate to the crimes.

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President Barack Obama, a Democrat, also favors criminal justice reform. During the summer he toured a federal prison and vowed to work to address prison overcrowding.

More than 1.5 million Americans were in state or federal prisons at the end of 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. African-Americans were 15 percent of the U.S. population at that time but accounted for about a third of its prisoners.

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(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Grant McCool and Ken Wills)


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World leaders mocked Trump because they’re tired of his ‘center of attention’ act: MSNBC guest

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During an MSNBC segment on President Donald Trump's abrupt departure from NATO talks in London after video was released of world leaders making fun of him, an MSNBC guest said those same leaders have become tired of his act.

Speaking with host David Gura, the LA Times Eli Stokols said international diplomats have realized there is no dealing with the president who is in his own world and just wants attention..

"Your colleague had a great line: 'This is a president who views norms like a teenager views curfews,'" Gura began.

"Well, he likes going to these things and blowing them up and being the center of attention," Stokols replied.

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CNN

Trump slammed for lawless obstruction of Congress: ‘He’s taken a sledgehammer to the Constitution’

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On CNN Saturday, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), who voted for the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, discussed the path forward for impeaching President Donald Trump.

"We know moderate Democrats are a bit frustrated with leadership over potentially expanding the scope of their consideration, maybe the Mueller report findings and drawing up these articles of impeachment," said anchor Victor Blackwell. "Do you think it's a mistake not to include anything beyond the Ukraine matter?"

"Yes," said Holtzman. "I think it would be a mistake, although, you know, I'm still at a distance, and the members of the committee really have to, who have been digging into this deeply have the best feel, but my sense is that the, what the president did is so egregious, not just with regard to Ukraine, but what part of what's bad about his activities in Ukraine, is that he's taken a sledgehammer to the Constitution by saying that Congress has no right to get information, and he's cut off his committee, his administration from, and ordered and directed them not to cooperate with the committee in any way."

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CNN

Giuliani pummeled by ex-press secretary for ‘returning to the scene of the crime’ to create Ukraine chaos

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On CNN Saturday, Rudy Giuliani's former mayoral press secretary Ken Frydman harshly criticized his former boss for his ongoing efforts in the Ukraine scheme.

"As you've watched the former mayor over the last several years, have you identified a point at which things shifted for the man who I guess still is for some known at America's Mayor?" asked anchor Victor Blackwell."

"Well, yeah. I think when he went into business with Donald Trump," said Frydman. "You saw a — a severe change in his personality. He had a zealous need to make money, to be relevant. To be part of the political process. And you know right now he's making, I think, ill-advised decisions, like returning to the scene of the crime, Ukraine, to make a propagandist documentary. Almost as if he's playing, he and the president, are playing, 'catch me if you can.' The president will not participate in the impeachment hearings, and Rudy is off in the Ukraine doubling down."

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