Measure Aims to Curb Recidivism, Reduce Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences
Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has cosponsored a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing mandatory minimum 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. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act was first introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
"Our criminal justice system is in dire need of reforms that focus on keeping the worst criminals off our streets," Bennet said. "This bill also takes important steps to further address the gaps in a justice system that have disproportionately affected communities of color across this country. This bill increases the emphasis on rehabilitating offenders so they can re-enter society and become contributing members of their communities. These types of reforms will not only create a safer environment, but a more stable and sustainable culture that will help end the systematic prison pipeline culture that has plagued communities across this country."
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 Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who are also cosponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The bill also makes retroactive the Fair Sentencing Act and certain statutory reforms that address inequities in drug sentences.
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