Former Federal Prosecutors Endorse Safety Valve. Support Grows for Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Reform

Post Date: July 17, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of more than 50 former federal prosecutors and judges today sent a letter to Capitol Hill endorsing the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, legislation that authorizes judges to depart from a mandatory minimum sentence in cases where the minimum is not necessary to protect public safety and would be unjust given the facts and circumstances of the crime and defendant. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act (S. 619) in the U.S. Senate, and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced the companion bill (H.R. 1695) in the U.S. House. 

“The men and women who endorsed the bill today helped to make our country safer by prosecuting and sentencing dangerous criminals,” said FAMM President Julie Stewart. “They know that to improve public safety we must focus our scarce anti-crime resources on violent and repeat offenders.” 

 In their letters addressed to the Justice Safety Valve Act sponsors in the Senate and House, the former prosecutors and judges wrote: 

As Congress looks for ways to improve upon recent gains in public safety, we believe that the reform in S. 619 would prove very valuable. … Under your legislation, dangerous criminals will continue to receive lengthy prison sentences. For lower-level offenders facing a mandatory minimum sentence, however, courts will be given the power to impose a shorter sentence. For example, a nonviolent drug seller facing a 10-year mandatory minimum might instead receive a sentence of seven or eight years if a court determines, after considering all the relevant facts, that the ten-year sentence is inappropriate and would punish the street seller more harshly than his more culpable codefendants. In drug cases, for example, a court might determine that a shorter prison term combined with mandatory drug treatment would be more likely to prevent an individual from re-offending. … 

We also support your bill because we believe that the money wasted on keeping nonviolent and nonthreatening offenders locked behind bars for years longer than necessary could be better spent on anti-crime programs that actually will enhance public safety. This is especially true in the current budget climate. We think public safety will be improved if limited government resources are targeted on prosecuting and incarcerating violent and repeat criminals. 

The 53 prosecutors and judges join a growing list of supporters of the Justice Safety Valve Act. The bill already has been endorsed by conservative columnist George Will, former National Rifle Association president David Keene, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Justice Fellowship. On June 23, The New York Times endorsed the federal safety valve. The Toledo Blade endorsed the bill on June 28. 

FAMM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for fair, individualized, and proportionate sentences that fit the crime and the individual while protecting public safety.  Contact:  Monica Pratt Raffanel, media@famm.org  
  
## 30 ##