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Lindsey Graham Takes Matters Into His Own Hands, Calls Out GOP Leaders To Rush Prison Reform Vote

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One of the key leaders of the Republican party is rallying conservative lawmakers around a fairly unlikely topic: Prison reform.

Historically, it has been liberals who have championed forward-thinking approaches to prison sentences and criminal justice, while conservatives are seen as stern-faced and stoic on law and order.

After decades of inaction from the left, however, it’s the GOP that is now trying to reform the nation’s approach to prisons, and the man carrying the banner is Lindsey Graham.

On Sunday, the South Carolina Republican pushed President Trump to “pick up the phone” and rally other Republicans to vote for a prison reform bill that’s currently stuck in Congress. Trump has already endorsed the measure, which is called the “First Step Act.”

“The South Carolina Republican said the reforms, which include inmate job training and easing of mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent offenses, would help black and Hispanic males, in particular,” reported The Washington Times.

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That last point is rather interesting. For years, liberals have claimed to be allies of the minority population, yet President Obama did almost nothing to push prison reform during his eight years in office.

Since this is a major issue with many in the black and Hispanic communities, Republican action could prove once and for all that, as the saying goes, this isn’t your grandfather’s GOP.

In addition to Graham, other Republicans signaled that they wanted to push prison reform sooner rather than later.

“NOW is time to pass crim justice reform unless your argument is that you prefer to work w Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass a bill?” posted Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who currently chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee but is set to be replaced by Graham in that position.

Do you support prison reform for non-violent offenders?

Black conservatives cheered the push for reform, and pointed out the irony that it was the supposedly “racist” Republicans — if you listen to the media, at least — who were actually getting things done on this largely minority issue.

“How many black ‘leaders’ have spent the last two plus years speaking out about unfair sentencing for our men— and yet are DEAD SILENT on the prison reform that [President Trump] just got done for millions?” asked Candace Owens on Twitter.

“You are all false prophets and idols. Zero respect for any of you fakes,” she scolded.

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According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 38 percent of inmates are black, while of course only 13 percent of the U.S. population are African American. While there are many reasons for this discrepancy, one of the biggest is the prevalence of black inmates who are in prison for non-violent drug offenses.

Indeed, the government reports that a staggering 46 percent — almost half — of all prison inmates are behind bars for drug offenses, including possession of marijuana.

Considering that national attitudes towards recreational marijuana are shifting even in states that Trump won, it is in many ways now conservatives who are in a position to bring America’s laws more in line with those changes.

The “First Step Act” is certainly not perfect, but it is at least attempting to tackle a major issue facing the nation. The cycle of prison is a frustrating reality for many people, especially those who have few job skills in the outside world.

If we can break this cycle for good people who made bad mistakes while still firmly dealing with the worst offenders, the entire country will be better off. This is easier said than done, but it could be the start of a major change.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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