Should Congress lower certain nonviolent mandatory drug sentences?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill modernizes federal drug sentencing policies by lowering certain nonviolent mandatory drug sentences. Federal judges would have the discretion to conduct individual resentencing reviews on nonviolent drug offenses. Those incarcerated who are defined as couriers- had a role transporting or storing drugs or money would have reduced mandatory sentences. The US Sentencing Commission must review and update its guidelines to reflect this bill and produce guidelines that minimize the Federal prison population exceeding the capacity of Federal prisons. This bill is meant to remove Federal resources from nonviolent offenses so that Federal resources are focused on the most serious offenses. Sponsor: Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) View full bill text ➔

How do you feel?

One click sends your opinion

Opponents say

• "Low-level offenders seems to me to be an undefined phrase. You don't know exactly what low level means. Often it's used to mean a courier in a drug business. What people don't realize as much as they should is that a courier in the drug business is just as essential as a car is in a pizza delivery business. The business - unless you can deliver your inventory, the business is going to fall apart. And just saying that they're low level is too general and too undefined to make for good criminal justice policy." Source: Former Federal Prosecutor and Georgetown Law Professor Bill Otis

Proponents say

• "Mandatory minimum penalties have played a large role in the explosion of the U.S. prison population, often leading to sentences that are unfair, fiscally irresponsible, and a threat to public safety. The First Step Act was a critical move in the right direction, but there is much more work to be done to reform our criminal justice system." Source: Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois)

• "Our current federal sentencing laws are out of date and often counterproductive. The Smarter Sentencing Act is a common sense solution that will greatly reduce the financial, and more importantly the human, cost imposed on society by the broken status quo. The SSA will give judges the flexibility and discretion they need to impose stiff sentences on the most serious drug lords and cartel bosses, while enabling nonviolent offenders to return more quickly to their families and communities." Source: Senator Mike Lee (Republican, Utah)