Politic365

 
 


Culture

5:19pm January 31, 2014

Three New Mandatory Minimums Added to Major Criminal Justice Reform Bill

grassley7

As the Senate Judiciary Committee moved the Smarter Sentencing Act to the Senate floor, Senate Democrats allowed three new mandatory minimum penalties to be included in the bill.   The Smarter Sentencing Act would significantly lower mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses.  It would also allow judges to use more discretion in sentencing for non-violent drug crimes.  The bill, along with the Justice Safety Valve Act, is a major change in direction in criminal justice reform.

Mandatory minimum sentencing ushered in an age of historic levels of incarceration in America over the last 30 years. The U.S. continues to lead the world in the rate of incarceration.  There are now over 2.2 million people behind bars at an annual cost of over $68 billion per year. The federal prison population has grown over 800% since 1980.

RELATED: NAACP’s Criminal Justice Fact Sheet features incredible stats

There were three new mandatory minimum penalties added to the Smarter Sentencing Act yesterday by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).  All but two of the ten Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the three new mandatory minimums — one, which focused on terrorism, was agreed to by voice vote.

drug-facts2The only three Senators who voted against the new mandatory minimum penalties were Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Tea Party Republican Mike Lee.  That fact should be duly noted by anyone who cares about criminal justice policy in America.  Even the bill’s primary sponsor,  Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) a Democrat, voted in favor of the two new mandatory minimum penalties unlike Republican Sen. Lee, who voted against them all. 

“The American Civil Liberties Union supports the base bill but opposes all new mandatory minimums,” the ACLU said in a press release.  Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) made a similar statement saying, ““Although FAMM would prefer the total repeal of mandatory minimum sentences, this bill is a necessary compromise that will help address many of the drivers of our exploding prison populations.”

There has been a major policy shift on mandatory minimum sentencing with everyone from George Will to Sen. Rand Paul and Ed Meese opposing them. Those conservatives have joined lawmakers like Reps. Bobby Scott and John Conyers who have been opposing them for years. Rep Scott is the primary sponsor, along with Republican Raul Labrador, of the House version of the Smarter Sentencing Act.

The three mandatory minimum amendments were authored by Grassley focused on sexual abuse, terrorism and domestic violence.  Ironically, Grassley voted against the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.  The law focuses over a billion dollars on prosecution of violent crimes against women.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to work on the Justice Safety Valve Act, which would give judges more discretion in sentencing, next.



About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke created the blog Crewof42 in 2009. The blog covers African American members of the U.S. Congress. She is also the Managing Editor of Politic365.com where she writes news and opinion on congressional politics. Ms. Burke appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin and on WHUR, WURD, WVON and the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Ms, Burke has enjoyed employment at USA Today and ABC News and the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail anytime: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42




 
 

 
cleaver2

Black Caucus Announces Plan to Boost the Black Vote for 2014

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH), CBCPAC Chair Greg Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) announced their plans to boost black voter turnout for the midterms.   They were joi...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
slideshow_1210556_healthreform.0810_10

#Ferguson: Rep. Hank Johnson’s Police Demilitarization Bill Gets GOP Support

Three Republicans have signed on to Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-GA) bill to stop handing free military equipment to local  police.  The three Republicans are Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Justin Amas...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
markFuller1

Members of Congress Vocal on Ray Rice Go Silent Federal Judge Mark Fuller

After Roland Martin shined a spotlight on Alabama Judge Mark Fuller, Congresswoman Terri Sewell became the first member of Congress to call for the federal judge’s resignation.  Why? Because in the wake of the scandal ov...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
2

 

Advertisement
 
Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.38.57 PM

CA State Sen. Roderick Wright to resign this month, following criminal conviction

California State Senator Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) announced on Monday that he would resign from the state legislature effective September 22. This comes after being convicted for felony perjury and voting fraud charges for...
by Adriana Maestas
2

 
 
hillaryA

Iowa: DREAMers Ask Hillary About Immigration, Get No Answers

DREAMers asked Hillary Clinton about the issue of President Obama’s latest delay on immigration.  Clinton, along with her husband, were in Iowa today at Sen. Harkin’s famous 37th (and final) annual Steak Fry in I...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 




One Comment


  1. ana

    Mandatory Minimums: The Drug War and Mass Incarceration; Attorney General Eric Holder and The Obama Administration should implement a way to reduce the budget of The Federal Bureau of Prisons,which grew by[4%] in this year of budgetary austerity…They should find a way to”not”open that New Federal Supermax Prison in Illinois,or a way to close existing torture facility like the one in Florence,Colorado…They should look for ways to use federal law enforcement and corrections funding to pressure States to close their Supermaxes,or encourage them to provide educational opportunities and decent medical care to the[2]million plus in State and Local Prisons and Jails…These are practical measures that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama have the power to do…After the[2010]passage of The Fair Sentencing Act,and Court decisions which say its provisions ought to be retroactive back to the[1980s] the sentences of the[5,000,[19,000],or[12,000] depending on the degree of retroactivity applied,who have already served excess prison time under the old and outlawed[100 to 1] crack vs powder cocaine penalties…Everyone will be held Responsible and Accountable.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>