Amended Weakened Version of Sentencing Reform Bill Passes Judiciary Comm.
The media is full of praise for the Senate Judiciary Committee which yesterday passed a sentencing reform bill addressing mandatory minimum sentencing laws on drug offenses.
Not so fast. Here is S.1410, the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013, as originally introduced by Senators Durbin, Leahy, and Whitehouse.
The version that passed the Judiciary Committee is a watered down, amended version of Durbin's bill. Durbin introduced a "Manager's Amendment" weakening the safety valve reform provision. Then the Committee approved amendments by Republican Charles Grassley that turned the bill into an enhanced crime bill, upping sentences and introducing more mandatory minimums for some non-drug crimes.
On mandatory minimums, the bill is an improvement, but far less than what is needed and certainly not historic. It reduces the mandatory minimum terms for drug offenses from 20, 10 and 5 years to 10, 5 and 2 years, respectively, and allows the 2010 crack cocaine sentencing reductions to apply retroactively to some classes of inmates, in the discretion of the judge. [More...]
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