Could the Time Be Right for Mandatory Sentencing Reform?

Post Date: September 18, 2013

(National Journal/Julie Stewart quoted) — Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., couldn’t be farther apart on the partisan spectrum, but their alliance over mandatory-sentencing laws represents the growing support for reform.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Paul-Leahy bill—dubbed the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013—which gives judges greater flexibility in departing from mandatory minimums when sentencing federal crimes. Another bill, sponsored by a second political odd couple—Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah—reduces mandatory minimums in nonviolent drug cases.

Indeed, liberals and conservatives have been coming together around the issue of mandatory sentences. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would seek to scale back its pursuit of mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders. Read more