The NFL will formally endorse a bill proposed in Congress to reduce the nation’s prison population, a league spokesman told reporters Monday.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, proposed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), aims to reduce federal prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
“This in an issue over the last several months that we continue to work with our players ... on issues of equality and criminal justice reform,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said. “We thought it was appropriate to lend our support to it.”
The announcement comes one day before NFL owners and players are set to meet at the league’s headquarters to address players’ ongoing protests. Many of the players point to criminal justice reform as a reason for the protest, including Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has publicly supported a bill that benefits people convicted of non-violent misdemeanors. Jenkins, Anquan Boldin, Glover Quin and others have spoken before Congress about such reforms on numerous occasions.
The bill the NFL plans to endorse was originally proposed last year and received broad support on both sides of the aisle. It was never brought up for a vote, however, due to opposition from some Senate Republicans, including then-Senator Jeff Sessions, now the Attorney General. Since his appointment as Attorney General, Sessions has urged prosecutors to pursue the harshest possible penalties for drug offenses.