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Friday, September 18, 2015

Will Trump's fear-mongering scuttle criminal justice reform?

by Kerry Eleveld
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump's greets the crowd during his
Just when we finally seemed to be getting some bipartisan Capitol Hill consensus around criminal justice reform, Trump is complicating the effort with his constant insistence that immigrants are "murderers" and "rapists," and his Willie Horton-style ad interspersing Jeb!'s "act of love" remarks on immigration with the mug shots of undocumented immigrants. Since the Republican primary has become a lesson in the Republican cabal's flimsy "deep" benchers mimicking Trump's every utterance, justice reform advocates have begun to fear a renewed emphasis on crime could sink the chances of getting a bill through, reports Tierney Sneed.
Just a few months ago, reformers were celebrating that most of the 2016 Republican cabal pack had signaled that, at least in theory, they supported retooling America's justice system. But, as has been the case with so many other sensitive issues, the entrance of Trump has changed the dynamic. Now instead of talking about criminal justice reform, the Republican cabal primary contenders are warning of a supposed nationwide crime spike, touting the mandatory-minimums in "Kate’s Law," and lobbing “soft on crime" accusations. “I’m concerned about the impact on the push for justice reform because we’re expecting a bill at some point this month,” Jason Pye, director of Justice Reform at the conservative FreedomWorks, told TPM. “I’m concerned about the impact of the rhetoric on that.”
Yes, FreedomWorks is backing criminal justice reform. It's just one sign of the breadth of liberal and conservative entities—including the ACLU, NAACP, the Koch brothers and Grover Norquist—that have come together around the issue. So is there hope? Maybe. It's all a question of how nervous the campaign trail rhetoric makes lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Nice work, Trump.

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