WASHINGTON, D.C. — FAMM government affairs counsel Molly M. Gill reacted today to news from U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that the Committee will hold a hearing on S. 619, the Justice Safety Valve Act, sponsored by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chairman Leahy, in September 2013:
“As case after case shows, mandatory minimum sentences are producing absurd results and locking up nonviolent people who aren’t a threat to public safety and cost taxpayers a fortune. Chairman Leahy’s Justice Safety Valve Act would allow judges to use common sense and save tough prison sentences for the people we fear the most. These kinds of cost-cutting reforms are gaining steam all over the United States, and it’s time for Congress to get on that train.”
Ms. Gill pointed to other signs that federal mandatory minimum reform is gaining momentum. On July 17, a group of more than 50 former federal prosecutors and judges released a letter endorsing the Justice Safety Valve Act bipartisan legislation to give federal courts more discretion to depart from a mandatory minimum sentence. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Justice Safety Valve in the U.S. Senate, and Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced an identical version (H.R. 1695) in the U.S. House. In addition to the former law enforcement officials, the Justice Safety Valve 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, the advocacy arm of Prison Fellowship Ministries. On June 23, The New York Times endorsed the federal safety valve. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Toledo Blade and Lehigh Valley Times also have endorsed the bill.
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