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Doug Baldwin remains at the forefront pushing for criminal justice reform.

The NFL is making sure its commissioner signs on publicly with Baldwin’s push.

The Seahawks wide receiver who has been a consistent voice for change amid controversy this season and commissioner Roger Goodell co-signed a letter to a Senate judiciary committee considering legislation on criminal justice reform, the league announced Tuesday morning.

The letter to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the judiciary committee, and three of his congressional colleagues begins: “We are writing to offer the National Football League’s full support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017 (S. 1917).”

The bipartisan bills seeks to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders, eliminate “three-strike” provisions that require life sentences and give judges more leeway to reduce sentences for certain low-level crimes.

The NFL made sure to disseminate this letter hours before Goodell and league owners were to begin meetings in New York that will include players. On the agenda Tuesday: a discussion of how to get past the recent national controversy about players sitting or kneeling during national anthems at games, and to address players’ calls for social reform in our country.

Baldwin’s teammate, Michael Bennett, has accepted the league’s invitation to participate in Tuesday’s meeting. Bennett told me he will be doing so by phone, because the Seahawks practice Tuesday at team headquarters in Renton.

Baldwin is a Stanford graduate with a degree in science and technology in society. He is also the son of a career law-enforcement officer. He has met with police officials from across Washington state, and with Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson, to discuss the need to change how law-enforcement officers are training in use of excessive force.

Last month, Baldwin announced the Seahawks’ players had started an action fund to help pay for that new police training, and for education opportunities for minorities.
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“The bottom line is, we all want to make our communities better,” Baldwin’s and Goodell’s letter to Congress states. “As Doug stated in a recent memo to owners, ‘this is about ‘doing the right thing for the right reasons…love and empathy are more important attributes than a forty time or route-running ability…yearning for justice and equality is something that all humankind can understand.’

“The Sentencing and Reform Corrections Act would address many of the issues on 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. If enacted, it would be a positive next step in our collective efforts to move our nation forward.

“Ultimately, we all share a responsibility to find a path towards unity, one that goes well beyond sports. The National Football League applauds the introduction of this bipartisan criminal justice reform bill as well as your ongoing committment of upholding America’s promise of justice for all. We stand ready to work with you to advance this important legislation.

Signed, Roger Goodell, Commissioner and Doug Baldwin, Jr., Seattle Seahawks”