Our View: End in sight for ‘one-size’ sentences

Post Date: September 25, 2013

(The Daily Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, IA) — Gone are the days, and thankfully so, when those – politicians in particular – who were opposed to mandatory minimum sentences for a litany of crimes running the full gamut of violence were considered “soft on crime.”

Concerns about both the fairness and the costs of cases, particularly those involving drug charges filed against generally nonviolent individuals who have little if anything in the way of a criminal history, have been growing in Congress; and the issue is gaining new speed as an unusual coalition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats push for the largest overhaul of federal sentencing guidelines yet. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering two bills, each sponsored by a liberal Democrat and a tea party Republican, that would allow judges to waive mandatory minimum sentences in many circumstances, particularly for some drug crimes. Lawmakers in both parties say the changes stand a chance of winning enactment by the end of the year.

Attorney General Eric Holder has shown interest in working with Congress to make permanent changes in sentencing laws. Holder last month instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences. Read more