Federal Judiciary to Seek Mandatory Minimum Sentence Reform

The Federal Judicial Conference issued a press release today supporting the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 which would give federal judges discretion not to impose a mandatory minimum sentence.

Acting on the recommendation of its Criminal Law Committee, the Conference agreed to seek legislation, such as the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 (S. 619), which is designed to restore judges’ sentencing discretion and avoid the costs associated with mandatory minimum sentences.

The judges are also seeking legislation that would early termination of supervision for inmates who have been granted compassionate release.


The Judicial Conference is also requesting legislation allowing early termination of supervision of inmates who obtain compassionate release from prison.
These offenders typically are physically incapacitated, dying or aged to the point that they no longer present a risk of harm to the community.

S. 619 would add the following to the federal sentencing statute, 18 USC 3553.

(g) Authority To Impose a Sentence Below a Statutory Minimum To Prevent an Unjust Sentence-

(1) GENERAL RULE- Notwithstanding any provision of law other than this subsection, the court may impose a sentence below a statutory minimum if the court finds that it is necessary to do so in order to avoid violating the requirements of subsection (a).

The requirements of 18 USC 3553(a) are here.

On the Judicial Conference:

The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system. The Chief Justice serves as its presiding officer. Its members are the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference meets twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch.

Last week, the Judicial Conference wrote a letter to President Obama for assistance with the devastating sequester cuts.

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    Rand Paul (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 11:26:40 AM EST
    Well some good things (none / 0) (#2)
    by sj on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 01:24:03 PM EST
    are happening due to sequestration. This is the right thing to do but it's a bit disheartening that the recommendation is made as a cost cutting measure.

    OTOH, I do think it's a good use of the principle of using whatever tools are available to one to do the right thing.