Overwhelming Bipartisan Majorities Support Bill Giving Judges Discretion to Moderate Prison Sentencing


A new survey finds overwhelming bipartisan support for provisions in a bill that would give judges greater discretion to ease prison sentencing, sponsored by U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). Some provisions were also contained in the House-passed First Step Act. Both pieces of legislation would roll back mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses that were set in the 1990s in response to a surge in crime, which has since abated. Such mandatory minimums played a key role in the more than doubling of the rates of incarceration that occurred in the subsequent decades. Proponents of the bill argue that this level of incarceration was an over-reaction that should be moderated, while opponents of the bill credit the high levels of incarceration with the reduction in crime.


A policymaking simulation is an online process that puts citizens in the shoes of elected officials by simulating the process they go through in making policy decisions. Each simulation introduces a broader policy topic and then presents a series of modules that address a specific policy option that is currently under consideration in the current discourse.

For each module, respondents:

  1. receive a short briefing on a policy issue and the option or options for addressing it;
  2. evaluate arguments for and against the policy options; and
  3. finally, make their recommendation for what their elected officials should do.