Two Pending Bills to Eliminate Mandatory Minimums

Update: Here is the letter 75 organizations and law professors sent to the Senate urging the complete elimination of the disparity.


As I wrote here, this is a bill we need. It now has 23 sponsors in the House. It would end mandatory minimums in all drug cases.

Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009 - Requires the Attorney General's prior written approval for a federal prosecution of an offense under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) or the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (CSIEA), or for any conspiracy to commit such an offense, where the offense involves the illegal distribution or possession of a controlled substance in an amount less than that specified as a minimum for an offense under CSA or, in the case of any substance containing cocaine or cocaine base, in an amount less than 500 grams.

Modifies CSA (Controlled Substances Act)and CSIEA to delete specified mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment.


The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees. The full text is here. Will a Senator please step up and introduce it in the Senate?

As for the best bill eliminating the disparity in crack/powder cocaine sentencing, it's this one, H.R. 1459, The Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott with 15 co-sponsors:

Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009- Amends the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to eliminate: (1) increased and mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses involving mixtures or substances which contain cocaine base (i.e., crack cocaine); and (2) restrictions on judicial authority to grant probation or suspended sentences for certain cocaine offenses.

It is not, as I've written several times, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's H.R. 265, a replica of S. 1711, Joe Biden's last crime bill which provides millions more dollars in funding to the DEA, federal prosecutors and others to keep the War on Drugs at full-tilt.

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    Definitely agree (none / 0) (#1)
    by ericinatl on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 05:04:38 PM EST
    That mandatory minimums need to be reduced.  I handled criminal cases for the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals for a couple of years and it was stupefying the sentences that were forced on some of these defendants, most of whom were powerless, moneyless and very low on the drug distribution food chain.

    I just wrote to my congressman (none / 0) (#2)
    by randy80302 on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:06:08 PM EST
    Will you?

    It is good to be informed about these issues, but we have the ability to influence if our politicians pay attention to these issues.

    Write your politicians today


    It is easy and takes only a few minutes.

    double jeopardy (none / 0) (#3)
    by jackson on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:29:19 AM EST
    I don't believe anyone has mentioned a major impact of the law.  It would expand the number of crimes for which an individual could be tried a second time in federal court after having been found not guilty in a state court -- or vice versa.  The supreme court allows this on he theory that the states and federal government ae separate sovereigns and each one gets a bite at the apple -- or the defendant.