The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Meghan Groob, 202-417-7547,

Bipartisan Over-Criminalization Task Force Begins Work on Criminal Justice Reform


The House Committee on the Judiciary Over-Criminalization Task Force of 2013 held its first meeting today to begin reducing federal criminal code. The task force, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), will comb through the code, identify unnecessary and ineffective criminal statutes for elimination, and develop bipartisan proposals for criminal justice reform. Today's meeting focused on identifying topics the task force may address as it moves forward and defining the scope of over-criminalization in the United States.

"The task force has a unique opportunity for meaningful reform of our federal criminal justice system through bipartisan leadership," said Jennifer Bellamy, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel. "The school-to prison-pipeline, explosion in mandatory minimums, and excessively harsh drug sentences have been key drivers in mass incarceration. As the task force begins its work, we hope it prioritizes restoring fairness to the criminal justice system by taking a look at these policy choices and examining the bipartisan criminal justice reforms on these issues which are occurring at the state level."

At a time of historically low rates of crime, the federal prison system is operating at almost 40 percent over capacity. A recent report by the Congressional Research Service found that the federal prison population has grown by almost 790 percent since 1980.

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