WASHINGTON, DC — FAMM President Julie Stewart commended U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) after he called for eliminating federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Senator Paul’s comments came during a speech he made to students at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, DC.
Last month, Senator Paul and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the FAMM-backed “Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013“, legislation that authorizes judges to depart below a mandatory minimum sentence in cases where the minimum is not warranted to protect public safety. This morning, Senator Paul told students at Howard University:
“In every neighborhood, white, black or brown, there are kids who are not succeeding because they messed up. They had kids before they were married, or before they were old enough to support them, or they got hooked on drugs, or they simply left school. … I am working with Democratic senators to make sure that kids who make bad decisions such as non-violent possession of drugs are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences. …
Some argue with evidence that our drug laws are biased-that they are the new Jim Crow. But to simply be against them for that reason misses a larger point. They are unfair to EVERYONE, largely because of the one size fits all federal mandatory sentences.
Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy handed and arbitrary. They can affect anyone at any time, though they disproportionately affect those without the means to fight them. We should stand and loudly proclaim enough is enough. We should not have laws that ruin the lives of young men and women who have committed no violence.”
Stewart praised Sen. Paul for his message of compassion, especially for non-violent offenders. “FAMM strongly supports repealing counterproductive mandatory minimum sentencing laws,” said Stewart. “In the meantime, we must give judges discretion in more cases so that low-level, nonviolent offenders don’t get hit with sentences that Congress intended for drug kingpins and violent criminals. We are thrilled that Senator Paul is taking a lead on this issue.”
Stewart noted that the Paul-Leahy Justice Safety Valve Act (S.619) has received support from other conservatives, including Justice Fellowship and Grover Norquist of Americans of Tax Reform.