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New Sentencing Reform Initiative Before Senate

Bill Weinberg



New Sentencing Reform Initiative Before Senate

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation this week that would reduce prison terms for non-violent drug offenders, Reuters reports. Under the proposed reform, mandatory minimum sentences would be reserved strictly for those convicted of violent crimes.

The bill’s lead sponsors are Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and senior Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein. The pair have teamed up before to push through hardline anti-drug legislation, which will perhaps give them credit with conservatives to promote this reform.

Said Grassley: “This bipartisan compromise ensures that…consequences fit their crimes by targeting violent and career criminals who prey on the innocent while giving nonviolent offenders with minimal criminal histories a better chance to become productive members of society.”

As Jurist noted, Grassley’s bill comes after a similar one was introduced in 2015. While that bill was strongly supported by the Obama administration, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never brought it to the floor for debate, and it languished.

It is hard to imagine the new bill will win support from the Trump administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, earlier this year, ordered more aggressive sentencing, reversing the Obama administration’s more lenient stance on non-violent drug offenses. Sessions also opposed the 2015 bill while still a senator.