sentencing reform

Pope Francis Unlikely to Influence Sentencing Bill

Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Charles "Chuck" Grassley both expect a criminal justice package to be introduced soon (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Argentine-born Pope Francis will visit prisoners in Philadelphia this week, fueling speculation that he'll make criminal justice reform part of his message on Thursday to Congress.  

But even though Sen. Charles E. Grassley has shown a willingness to revisit federal sentencing laws, the tough-on-crime chairman of the Judiciary Committee is unlikely to be persuaded by the Vatican leader. "We legislate according to American people," the Iowa Republican told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday.  

Bipartisan Bedfellows Push Overhaul of Prison, Sentencing Systems

Booker, left, wants to continue working on prison overhaul. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Republicans set to have control of both chambers of Congress, there has been no shortage of talk of leaving the dysfunction of the 113th Congress behind and focusing on areas of compromise in the coming year.  

One possible area (which is off most political radars) is overhauling the prison and sentencing systems, an issue on which Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, agree. They'll all still be around in the 114th Congress.