Current Repeal Legislation
The Mandatory Minimum Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 3800) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on September 14, 2017, by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). If passed, the bill would
- Repeal mandatory minimum sentences for all federal drug offenses except continual criminal enterprise (21 U.S.C. section 848), which applies to the highest-level, highest-earning drug traffickers. (not retroactive)
- Require the U.S. Attorney General to pre-approve, in writing, any prosecution by a federal prosecutor of a case that involves less drugs than the drug quantities listed in 21 U.S.C. sections 841(b)(1)(A) or, in crack or powder cocaine cases, less than 500 grams of either substance. (not retroactive)
The goal of the bill is to make federal drug sentencing laws individualized and fair, and to prevent federal prosecution of low-level drug offenders who can be adequately policed, prosecuted, and punished by local authorities. FAMM supports the bill.
The Problem: Mandatory minimum sentencing laws require judges to give all offenders convicted of a certain crime the same punishment — regardless of whether it fits the crime or the offender or is necessary to keep the public safe. Judges are not allowed to consider any special facts or unique circumstances, the offender’s role, the person’s motive or profit, whether someone was actually injured, and whether the person is likely to reoffend or can be rehabilitated. Mandatory minimum sentences result in lengthy, excessive sentences for many people, leading to injustices, prison crowding, high costs for taxpayers — and less public safety.
Solution: One way to reform mandatory minimum sentences is simply to get rid of them — to strike them out of the federal code, or “repeal” them. Repealing mandatory minimum sentences would not give judges full and unfettered discretion to sentence however they wanted to — without mandatory minimums, federal judges would still have to do what they do in all federal criminal cases, which is apply the federal sentencing guidelines to determine the person’s sentence. The federal sentencing guidelines are written by a panel of criminal justice experts and give judges instruction on how to sentence. However, guidelines also provide greater flexibility to take all the facts into consideration and impose a sentence that fits. FAMM supports repealing federal mandatory minimum sentences.