Durbin Remarks at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, legislation he negotiated aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses, targeting violent criminals, and granting judges greater discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes. The bill also seeks to curb recidivism by helping prisoners successfully re-enter society.


HD Video of Durbin’s remarks at the hearing is available HERE. Durbin questioned Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates during the hearing.


We believe that there are many non-violent drug offenders currently serving lengthy mandatory minimum sentences,” said Durbin. “In 2011, the Sentencing Commission did a comprehensive study on mandatory minimums. They found that 55,000 people were in federal prison serving mandatory minimum sentences for a drug crime. 55,000. That’s more than 50 percent of all federal drug offenders, and more than one quarter of all federal prisoners.”


The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 is also sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Chris Coons (D-DE)


The bill narrows the scope of certain mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals, while broadening and establishing new outlets for judges to sentence individuals with minimal nonviolent criminal histories below the mandatory minimum sentence. 


In addition to reducing prison terms for certain offenders through sentencing reform, qualifying inmates can earn reduced sentences through recidivism reduction programs outlined in the CORRECTIONS Act introduced by Cornyn and Whitehouse. The bill also makes retroactive the Fair Sentencing Act and certain additional statutory reforms that address inequities in drug sentences.


For more information on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, see the following documents: