Nov 21, 2018

VIDEO: Tom Cotton Supports the Clinton Crime Bill

Post by Geoff Holtzman

By opposing the First Step Act, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is making clear that he supports the Clinton crime bill, says Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden.

During an interview this morning on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal program, Holden noted that the four sentencing reforms within the First Step Act would scale back the worst elements of the 1994 bill, which devastated communities and failed to make the country any safer.

“Individuals against this bill, Tom Cotton and others, are trying not to support the president’s agenda and they end up supporting what the Clinton crime bill is,” Holden said. “We should probably call the bill the ‘Clinton-Cotton crime bill.'”

The crime bill passed during the Clinton administration imposed what is known as the federal “three strikes rule” that mandates a life sentence for three or more convictions. The rule, introduced by then-President Bill Clinton, helped explode U.S. prison populations and prison system costs, while failing to combat crime.

It resulted in a 500 percent increase in the number of incarcerated people in the U.S., according to Kelley Paul (R-KY), a criminal justice reform advocate who is married to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

“No modern president has done more to damage the lives of non-violent offenders than Bill Clinton, and particularly black Americans who might have made mistakes but paid draconian prices,” wrote The American Conservative.

The First Step Act would give federal judges the discretion to issue a 25 year sentence to a third-time, non-violent offender. But, contrary to claims by Cotton and others, the bill would still allow judges to issue life sentences if they deem the punishment appropriate. In other words, the bill unties the hands of judges, allowing them to better perform their jobs.

President Trump, who has endorsed the First Step Act, recently pointed out that the bill “rolls back some of the provisions of the Clinton crime law that disproportionately harmed the African-American community.”

[RELATED: Correcting Sen. Cotton’s False Claims About Sentencing Reform and Mandatory Minimums]

Common-sense measures like these are why the First Step Act has the support of Trump, major law enforcement groups like the Fraternal Order of Police, lawmakers from both parties, and over 80 percent of voters nationwide.

It’s time for Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on the bill. If you agree, you can help by urging your senator to support the First Step Act.