Criminal Justice Reform: The Road Ahead
With the fate of a major bipartisan criminal justice reform bill hanging in the balance on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post gathered three of the bill’s co-sponsors -- Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- as well as other elected officials and advocates, including Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pa.), to highlight important debates around reform of mandatory minimum sentences, the country’s bail system, police-community relations and other key issues on the nation’s criminal justice agenda.
Program: 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Agenda
Tackling Mass Incarceration: A View from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania elected officials discuss steps they have taken to address the state's prison population, including expanding the use of post-conviction DNA testing to remedy wrongful incarceration and updating parole regulations to prevent recidivism.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania State Rep. Sheryl Delozier and Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Sec. John Wetzel, discuss the effectiveness of reforms like these and the likelihood of adoption at the federal level.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) reflected on criminal justice reform proposals he would like to see his state move forward with pursuing including mandatory minimum sentences, probation reform, bail bond reform, reducing rates of recidivism and more.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live Event, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel examined the impact of the nation’s opioid epidemic on the prison population.
  • Dec 4
Gov. Tom Wolf
D-Pa.
On January 20, 2015, Tom Wolf was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s 47th governor. Before he was governor, Wolf was the owner of the Wolf Organization, a distributor of lumber and other building products. Wolf grew up in a small south central Pennsylvania town in York County. He left York County to attend college at Dartmouth, but he interrupted his studies to join the Peace Corps. He later earned graduate degrees from the University of London and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rep. Sheryl Delozier
(R), Member, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Rep. Sheryl Delozier is currently serving her fifth two-year term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on behalf of the residents of the 88th Legislative District in Cumberland County, which includes Lower Allen and Upper Allen townships; Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, Shiremanstown and Wormleysburg boroughs. Sheryl serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Labor and Industry, and Tourism and Recreational Development committees. She is also a member of the House Ethics Committee.   
John Wetzel
Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
John Wetzel, widely recognized as one of the thoughtleaders in corrections today, is Secretary of Corrections for the State of Pennsylvania. With more than 29 years of experience in the corrections field, he has been selected as chair of the Council of State Government's Justice Center's Executive Board. He is a member of Harvard's Executive Session on Community Corrections.  
Moderated by Wesley Lowery
National Correspondent
The Washington Post
A Firsthand Look at Conviction and Clemency
Previously incarcerated advocates and experts discuss first-hand experiences with the prison system and the impact federal mandatory minimums and sentencing disparities have had on families across the country.     
At a Washington Post Live event, previously incarcerated advocates and experts discuss first-hand experiences with the prison system and the impact federal mandatory minimums and sentencing disparities have had on families across the country.
  • Dec 4
Sharanda Jones was sentenced to life in prison without parole for a first-time, non-violent drug offense in 1999. In 2015, President Barack Obama granted her clemency. At a Washington Post Live event, Jones opened up about her story of incarceration.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Kevin Ring, President of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, told his story about being incarcerated and expressed frustration over Washington gridlock on meaningful criminal justice reform legislation.
  • Dec 4
Brittany K. Barnett
Attorney and Co-founder, Buried Alive Project
Brittany K. Barnett is the co-founder of the Buried AliveProject. She recently worked with the team at #cut50 to lead its #clemencyNOW campaign and continues to passionately represent and advocate for nonviolent drug offenders. Brittany is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.  
Sharanda Jones
Co-founder, Buried Alive Project
Sharanda Jones grew up in poverty in rural Terrell, Texas.  In 1999, Jones, along with two other individuals, were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and six counts of possession with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting. She was found guilty of the conspiracy count and acquitted of the other counts. She was sentenced to 19 years in prison, but was granted clemency by President Barack Obama in 2015.  
Kevin Ring
President, Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Kevin Ring is president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. He spent more than a year in federal prison for his role in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. He began his career in Washington, DC as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill. During his tenure, he served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary’s Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights Subcommittee under the leadership of future U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. He also served as executive director for the Republican Study Committee.  
Moderated by Sari Horwitz
Criminal Justice Reporter
The Washington Post
Content from the Justice Action Network | Defying the Odds: Bipartisan Advocates Come Together for Reform
Criminal justice reform has confounded Congress for 24 years. But recently, bipartisan groups have defied the odds and come together to champion meaningful reforms that are steps from the finish line. Three leading advocates will discuss how a federal criminal justice reform bill has won the support of a diverse group of stakeholders and President Trump.
Criminal justice reform has confounded Congress for 24 years. But recently, bipartisan groups have defied the odds and come together to champion meaningful reforms that are steps from the finish line. Three leading advocates will discuss how a federal criminal justice reform bill has won the support of a diverse group of stakeholders and President Trump.
  • Dec 4
Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs, FreedomWorks
  Jason Pye is the vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks. He provides policy and legislative analysis for FreedomWorks, promotes the organization's policy agenda on Capitol Hill, and works with allied congressional staffers to build support for their legislative priorities with the organization's grassroots community. Before joining FreedomWorks, Jason served as editor of United Liberty, a blog dedicated to promoting free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.
Jessica Jackson Sloan
Co-Founder and National Director, #cut50
  Jessica Jackson Sloan, a human rights attorney, is the National Director and Co-Founder of #cut50, a group devoted to reforming the U.S. criminal justice system. She also serves as Vice Mayor of Mill Valley, California where she acts as a liaison to communities and neighborhoods and advises the mayor in agenda setting.  
Moderated by Holly Harris
Executive Director, Justice Action Network
  Holly Harris is a veteran litigator, conservative communicator and campaign strategist. As Executive Director of Justice Action Network, Harris managed campaigns that passed significant criminal justice reform legislation in more than a dozen states and moved bipartisan legislation at the federal level. She began her career as a television news reporter, and later graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law.  
Weighing the Costs of Reform: Order, Justice, Redemption
Elected officials and legal experts debate the best approach to criminal justice, from the use of mandatory minimum sentencing to reexamining the country’s bail system and community-police relations.
Elected officials and legal experts debate the best approach to criminal justice, from the use of mandatory minimum sentencing to reexamining the country’s bail system and community-police relations.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) pushed back on criticism by his colleague Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) of the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill, saying ‘this bill would make the American people safer.’
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, ex-Department of Justice official Vanita Gupta called out Congressional leaders for being years behind on passing meaningful criminal justice reform laws, remarking that several states have instead been leaders in reform efforts.
  • Dec 4
Vanita Gupta
President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Vanita Gupta is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. From October 15, 2014 to January 20, 2017, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all.  
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
Member, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Elected in 2010 as Utah's 16th Senator, Sen. Mike Lee is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Lee graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and from BYU's Law School in 1997. He went clerk for future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Lee spent several years as an attorney with the law firm Sidley & Austin specializing in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and then served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Salt Lake City arguing cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  
Larry Leiser
President, National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys
Mr. Leiser is president of the National Association ofAssistant United States Attorneys. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, and has taught at George Mason University. For the past 30 years, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuting federal criminals at all levels.  Prior to that, Leiser served as an Assistant County Prosecutor in New Jersey and as a Trial Attorney for the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section at the U.S. Department of Justice.  
Moderated by Wesley Lowery
National Correspondent
The Washington Post
The ‘First Step’ Toward Federal Reform
Two senior lawmakers in the U.S. Senate leading the way on criminal justice reform discuss the latest news on the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation endorsed by President Trump which may still make its way to the Senate Floor before the year is over.
Two senior lawmakers in the U.S. Senate leading the way on criminal justice reform discuss the latest news on the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation endorsed by President Trump which may still make its way to the Senate Floor before the year is over.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) discussed the GOP view of enacting criminal justice reform, including President Trump’s support of the First Step Act and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s leadership on the issue.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) discussed Democratic support for the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, saying that support is ‘solid, an overwhelming majority.’
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) offered advice to President Trump on his tweeting habits, saying, ‘the president would solve a lot of his problems if he just showed his wife the tweet before he sends it.’
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has never expressed opposition to the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill in the U.S. Senate.
  • Dec 4
At a Washington Post Live event, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) discussed Jared Kushner’s leadership on the topic of prison reform, citing that he and the president’s son-in-law are in constant communication about the issue.
  • Dec 4
Sen. Chuck Grassley
R-Iowa
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, serves as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. From the farm bill, to trade, taxes, energy, health care, bankruptcy and the federal regulatory regime, Grassley advocates for farmers and families who live and work in Rural America. A lifelong family farmer, himself, Grassley previously served in the Iowa House of Representatives and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sen. Dick Durbin
D-Ill.
Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois, the state’s senior senator and the convener of Illinois’ bipartisan congressional delegation. Durbin also serves as the Democratic Whip, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats. Durbin sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations and Rules Committees.
Robert Costa
National Political Reporter
The Washington Post
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