NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin co-authored a letter to Senators Charles Grassley, Mike Lee, Richard Durbin, and Sheldon Whitehouse pledging the NFL’s support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.
The letter, which was first published by Politico, reads in part: “The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would address many of the issues which our players have worked to raise awareness of over the last two seasons. This bill seeks to improve public safety, increase rehabilitation, and strengthen families.”
Bread.org covers some of the basis for the bill, which would seek to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses:
Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities. Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The federal prison population has increased more than 750 percent over the past 35 years. Moreover, Hispanic (38.3 percent) and African-American (31.5 percent) defendants are disproportionately convicted of offenses that carry a federal mandatory minimum penalty (compared to 27.4 overall).
Though this bill is being introduced with bipartisan support from two Republican Senators (Grassley and Durbin) and two Democrats (Lee and Whitehouse), Salon notes that the bill could face challenges in the Breitbart/Bannon wing of the Republican party, and even if it is initially passed may it not be signed by President Trump.
Nevertheless, it can’t be discounted how big of a deal it is that the NFL’s 32 owners, many of whom are staunchly Conservative, are attached to the support of this bill in the form of Goodell’s participation in the letter.