Post Date: March 20, 2013
Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and FAMM’s Julie Stewart joined forces to write an op-ed for The Hill on March 20 that lays out the reasons all Americans should support sentencing reform. Writes the authors:
Even before the sequester took effect, the Obama administration’s Department of Justice was warning that federal prison spending had become “unsustainable” and was forcing cuts in other anti-crime initiatives. Despite such warnings, we have seen little evidence of an administration strategy on how to control these costs. Fortunately, Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) today are stepping in to fill that void with the introduction of bipartisan legislation to restore common sense to our criminal sentencing laws.
The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 authorizes federal courts to depart below a statutory mandatory minimum sentence only after finding, among other things, that providing a particular defendant a shorter sentence – say, seven or eight years in prison for a drug offense rather than the 10-year mandatory minimum – will not jeopardize public safety. The bill does not require judges to impose shorter sentences, and for many crimes, the minimum established by Congress will be appropriate. But in cases where the mandatory minimum does not account for the offender’s limited role in a crime or other relevant factors, the judge would be allowed to consider those factors and craft a more appropriate sentence. Read more