FAMM Responds to Changes to Sentencing Reform Bills in Congress: Strengthen, Don’t Weaken, Sentencing Reforms

Post Date: April 28, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Leila McDowell, lmcdowell@famm.org, 202-822-6700

Today, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Mike Lee (R-UT) unveiled changes that will be made to the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) in an effort to win more votes and cosponsors for the proposal. FAMM President and founder Julie Stewart reacted to the revisions to the bill with the following comments:

“It’s hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of having a tenacious group of bipartisan Senators seek sentencing reform. However, this bill was very modest to begin with, and Congress should be strengthening it, not weakening it. In the last several days, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Iowa lawmakers have passed bold reforms that reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum drug sentences. Congress should be following that example, capitalizing on public support for sentencing reform and passing significant reform that will seriously impact who goes to prison and for how long.

“There are some improvements being made today, but the bill still does not pass the Mandy Martinson test. When first-time, nonviolent drug addicts like her still get 15-year mandatory minimum sentences, we have to question how much reform is really being achieved.

“The bill also takes some steps backward. It would now require courts to impose extra prison time for crimes involving fentanyl, a drug sometimes mixed with heroin. But long sentences have been a dismal failure at stopping drug crime and abuse. Congress would do better to invest more money in treatment rather than spend it on locking people up longer for drug crimes,” said Stewart.

 FAMM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and celebrating 25 years of sentencing reform advocacy this year.