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Criminal reform legislation passes Senate

Legislation aimed at reforming parts of the criminal justice system passed the Senate 82-12 after revisions were made. It would allow some federal inmates from Maryland and other states to obtain a reduced sentence and other benefits. Those who work or participate in other qualifying programs can receive credit toward their sentence. The idea is that prisoners would be more productive while in custody and less likely to offend again once they are released.

Furthermore, the bill would ease penalties for some who are in prison for crack cocaine offenses. Although a large majority voted for the bill, there was significant opposition from both Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Kennedy of Louisiana. Cotton claimed that the bill would allow people who molested children or stole vehicles to be given leniency. He also claimed that Michael Cohen could see a reduced sentence if the bill passed.

Both Cotton and Kennedy introduced amendments to the bill that would likely have limited its scope. Even if the amendments were to pass, it would only impact about 10 percent of the overall prison population in America. That would be about 200,000 inmates, of which only a percentage would qualify for leniency. Overall, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A conviction on any criminal charge could have significant consequences for an individual, such as prison time, a fine or probation. A conviction could also make it harder to get a job or retain the right to vote or own a gun. It may be in a person's best interest to hire an attorney to help resolve the matter in a favorable manner. This might be done by casting doubt on witness testimony or other evidence used to ultimately charge a defendant with a crime.

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