Politics

House to Take Up Criminal Justice Overhaul in September

Ryan expects to bring six bills to the floor

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House will take up legislation to overhaul the criminal justice system in September, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said.  

The Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep aired Friday that the House Judiciary Committee has already reported four bills out of committee and that they’re looking to mark up two more. The plan is to bring all six measures to the floor in September, he said.  

Inskeep asked Ryan about whether there’s been a double standard in the war on drugs with the crack cocaine problems in the black community in the 1980s leading to tougher criminal sentences, while the response to the opioid crisis in the white community  has focused on treatment and public health.  

“I think you need to compliment this with criminal justice reform. I agree with that as well,” Ryan said. “That’s something we’re working on for September.”  

Ryan said government, both Republicans and Democrats, went too far on the criminal code in the 1990s.  

[ The Human Face of Criminal Justice Overhaul ]  

“We’ve learned that there are better ways to dealing with these problems than locking up someone for 20 or 30 years. You end up ruining their lives, ruining their families, hurting communities. And then when they try to reenter into society, they’re destitute.”  

The issue is one of the few on which President Barack Obama and many congressional Republicans appear to agree . White House aides continue to express confidence that a criminal justice overhaul bill will pass before the president leaves office in January.  

[ Clinton Calls for Criminal Justice Overhaul and Gun Control After Shootings ]  

Senior Obama aides have praised leading Republicans like Ryan and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas for their work toward legislation Obama would sign.  

John T. Bennett contributed to this report.

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