Tags: federal sentencing | reforms | drugs | crime

Senate Takes Up Federal Sentencing Reforms

Senate Takes Up Federal Sentencing Reforms
(Peter Macdiarmid/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:15 AM

Three bills have been introduced setting the stage for possible new federal sentencing reforms, The Washington Free Beacon is reporting.

The bills have been introduced by a host of Senate leaders, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., Orin Hatch, R-Utah and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

The Free Beacon noted the federal prison system holds almost 190,000 offenders — nearly half incarcerated for drug-related crimes. One of the bills would reduce enhanced penalties for certain drug offenders

However, the bill denies "defendants convicted of serious violent felonies and serious drug felonies" those same benefits, the Free Beacon noted.

"Mandatory minimums are not an individualized approach," said Arthur Rizer, justice policy director for the R Street Institute. "There are some people who are drug offenders who need to spend a long time in jail. And there are people who don’t."

And Grassley is quoted by KCRG-TV as saying: "Our bill does not open the prison doors and let everybody out.

"It just gives people that had unfair sentences an opportunity to go before a judge, plead the case, and if the judge would agree that it's unfair under the mandatory sentencing provisions of our law, then their sentence would be shortened. This does not mean they get out on streets right away."

One of the other bills is expected to deal with mandatory minimums. Although details were unavailable, that bill, introduced by Durbin and others, is expected to increase the number of instances in which courts may disregard mandatory minimums, according to the Free Beacon.

That bill would also reduce mandatory minimums for "manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, importing or exporting" a list of drugs including heroin and PCP, the website reported.

However, since the country is facing an opioid crisis, support for the bill is in question, the Free Beacon said.

"I'm not saying I don't support it, I’m not sure it's really passable," Rizer said.

Another of the bills would create a uniform standard for criminal intent in federal laws that otherwise lack such a standard, the website noted.

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Three bills have been introduced setting the stage for possible new federal sentencing reforms, The Washington Free Beacon is reporting.
federal sentencing, reforms, drugs, crime
337
2017-15-11
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:15 AM
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