Thousands Await Clemency for Drug Sentences

Today — July 18, 2014 — an important vote will occur. The United States Sentencing Commission will vote on the 2 Point Reduction Law, which potentially may reduce the sentences of many federal inmates. In late December, the president commuted the prison sentences of eight inmates. The inmates that were spared were convicted of nonviolent

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3 Reasons to End Mandatory Sentencing

By Jason Pye / There has been a big, bipartisan push in Congress to right a wrong in the United States’ approach to drug policy. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 1410), a measure that would end mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. Rep. Raul

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A Rare Opportunity for Criminal Justice

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Leave it to the baby-boomer generation to be a primary contributor of a new paradigm for criminal justice reform. After years of punitive legislation in an effort to cut-back on crime, young law-makers are having an epiphany about what really works when it comes to challenging high crime rates and lowering the recidivism rate.

Two major reasons for these changes are the almighty dollar and the fact that the current legislation is the first generation that hasn’t experienced the impact of Prohibition and totalitarian regimes.

Welcome to an era where for the first time in political history the right and left wingers are merging together with efforts to mend the present condition of the criminal justice system.  

The current economic status of the United States is partially responsible for legislature to take a more serious look at how mass incarceration is causing state and federal budgets to continue a growing deficit.

The 2008-2009 recession forced conservatives to consider a more effective approach to incarceration.

Between baby-boomers who are tired of punitive approaches for controlling crime and generation X-er’s (born 1965-1979) fresh philosophies around criminal justice legislation, it is an exciting time to witness the most significant criminal justice overhaul in American history. 

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Rep. Bobby Scott leads the push to reduce mandatory federal sentences

By Peter Dujardin, [email protected]

NEWPORT NEWS — A federal lawmaker from the Peninsula is helping to lead a bipartisan effort to reduce minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes, which he and other backers say will translate into fewer prisoners and large cost savings.

U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, is the lead co-sponsor of the legislation, the “Smarter Sentencing Act.” It was introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, with a companion bill introduced in the Senate in July.

“Mandatory minimums have been studied for a long time,” Scott said in an interview Thursday. “And all these studies conclude that mandatory minimums fail to reduce crime, waste the taxpayers’ money, and often require the judges to impose sentences that violate common sense.”

The legislation would also increase the number of defendants eligible for a waiver that allows judges to sentence particular defendants below the minimums. That is, the bill would allow that “safety valve” to be available for people with more on their criminal records than is now the case.

Reducing the number of people jailed for drug crimes — and giving more sentencing discretion to judges — has become a bipartisan push in both houses of Congress.

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