POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Booker introduces bill to automatically review sentences 10 years or longer

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

Ibrahim Sulaimani lives what looks like a quiet life in Cherry Hill, but up until a year ago he was serving 30 years to life in state prison for felony murder that occurred when he and another man robbed a friend. It’s a crime he committed when he was just 15.

“I didn’t really process it. Thirty years is a long time. I knew I made a mistake from the beginning. I was remorseful of the crime from the beginning,” said Sulaimani.

A bill introduced by Sen. Cory Booker, officially known as The Matthew Charles and William Underwood Second Look Act, calls for all federal prisoners serving longer than 10 years to have a judge review their sentence for possible early release. More than 80,000 federal prisoners are serving terms longer than 10 years. Prisoners over the age of 50 will automatically be able to petition for early release.

Even though the proposed law wouldn’t impact state prisoners like himself, Ibrahim argues that 10 years is long enough to determine if someone can be rehabilitated.

Kara Gotsch, director of strategic development for the Sentencing Project  says that there’s support from conservatives and liberals for continued prison reform. She also points to decades of criminology research that indicates that its the certainty of punishment, not the severity that deters criminal behavior.