Cotton: ‘Getting Pretty Late’ in Session to Pass Prison Reform

Tuesday on the “Hugh Hewitt Show,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) commented on the prison reform bill’s status, doubting there is sufficient time left in the session to get it passed.

Cotton said there are “ongoing changes, seemingly by the hour from the advocates of this bill that they’re not releasing in public,” which is holding up getting the bill passed.

“It’s getting pretty late in the day in this lame duck session to be making changes in such a highly-complex area of law that have such grave consequences for public safety,” Cotton told Hugh Hewitt. If they do want to move forward, I certainly hope they would exclude all fentanyl traffickers from any kind of leniency or sentencing reduction. But if, Hugh, if what they really want to do is reduce recidivism, which we should do in our country, people who have paid their debts to society should have a chance to get back on their feet and not be a menace to society, it’s very simple. Simply delete from the bill all the provisions that allow people to get out of prison early, that reduce sentences for repeat or serious offenders, and that apply these changes retroactively.”

He continued, “There is common ground on trying to provide prisoners education such as GED programs or job training in technical career skills, giving them counseling and mentoring programs, especially faith-based ones. We should be focusing on that common ground. We shouldn’t be slashing sentences and releasing child abusers and serious felons and drug dealers early from prison.

“So what is the status, is the conference going to meet again to discuss this? Has the leader given any kind of guidance as to when a decision will be made? Because I just don’t think you have the time at this point to have a serious debate about this bill,” Hewitt asked.

Cotton replied, “Hugh, there’s not really a bill to be discussed right now. I mean, the proponents dropped a bill Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving. By their own public account, they have engaged in repeated changes to the bill, yet those are not being made public. So at this point, the majority leader doesn’t really have a piece of legislation to put on the floor and vote on. And as you say, I mean, here it is Tuesday, and our new target date for adjournment is next Thursday. And there’s many other pieces of legislation, many important nominations to entertain as well.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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