Senators Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015
WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of senators led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced comprehensive legislation aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders, targeting violent criminals, and granting judges greater discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes. The package also seeks to curb recidivism by helping prisoners successfully re-enter society.
Durbin spoke on the floor of the Senate immediately following the announcement.
Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.
“This compromise represents more than three years of work on criminal justice reform. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on earth. Mandatory minimum sentences were once seen as a strong deterrent. In reality they have too often been unfair, fiscally irresponsible and a threat to public safety. Given tight budgets and overcrowded prison cells, our country must reform these outdated and ineffective laws that have cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. This bipartisan group is committed to getting this done,” Durbin said.
“This historic reform bill addresses legitimate over-incarceration concerns while targeting violent criminals and masterminds in the drug trade. It’s the product of thoughtful bipartisan deliberation, and I thank my colleagues for their hard work to promote opportunities to reduce recidivism while protecting our communities from violent career criminals. This bill is an important component in my ongoing effort as Judiciary Committee chairman to ensure access to justice for both the victims and the accused,” Grassley said.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 is sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
The bill narrows the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals, while broadening and establishing new outlets for individuals with minimal non-felony criminal histories that may trigger mandatory minimum sentences under current law. The bill also reduces certain mandatory minimums, providing judges with greater discretion when determining appropriate sentences, and preserves cooperation incentives to aid law enforcement in tracking down kingpins.
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 statutory reforms that address inequities in drug sentences.
For more information on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, see the following documents:
Previous Article Next Article