From the August 2003 Idaho Observer:

HR 5296 still needs sponsor

The IO has received numerous inquiries regarding whether or not someone in Congress has volunteered to sponsor HR 5296 -- the bill proposed by the late Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii) to reestablish the federal parole system.

To our knowledge, not one member of Congress has stepped forward to sponsor the bill that could relieve the nation of its exploding federal prisoner population. As it stands, the bill died with Rep. Mink who succumbed to viral pneumonia last August.

HR 5296 would amend Title 18, Part III of U.S. Code by inserting “Chapter 213” to recommission the federal parole system which was fundamentally decommissioned under mandatory minimum sentencing laws enacted in 1984.

As far as we know, the bill is sitting in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a new sponsor.

Shortly after Rep. Mink's death, The IO contacted her staff in Washington, D.C. A legislative assistant said that he would forward the entire file to any congressman who offered to take up where Rep. Mink left off.

The need for such a bill is evident in the numbers. Four years after the mandatory minimums were established, the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that the federal prison population was 42,738. By 1999, the population had nearly tripled to 114,275.

Since not one member of Congress has volunteered to sponsor this bill, someone will have to step forward and do what it takes to convince their rep. to pick it up and run with it.

To get the ball rolling would take a minimal amount of effort. Write a letter to your congressman addressed to his local office. Politely request being copied with the bill and any other documentation or legislative tracking pertinent to the bill. This information will be forwarded to you. Review the information, add to it other material such as what has been reported in The IO and then make an appointment with your rep. to discuss the issue.

If you get to this point and need more direction, call The IO and we can help you plot your next move. (DWH)

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Hari Heath

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The Idaho Observer
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