Currently, the dominant paradigm in the criminal legal system is the myth that imposing harsh mandatory minimum sentences and locking people of color in cages are necessary to keep white people safe. The bill was introduced on July 31, 2013, by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and referred to the Judiciary Committee on October 20, 2013. The Act was passed by a vote of 13 to 5. But both senior senators acknowledge its not a glide path forward, Politico said, particularly given the GOP messaging on rising crime ahead of the 2022 midterms a focus that was on full display during Ketanji Brown Jacksons Supreme Court hearings last month., Jackson was blasted last month by a few Republican senators for being too soft on sentencingchild sex abuse and drug offenders. Well be in touch. In the words of the members of the bipartisan U.S. That means there are other bills with the number S. 1013. In some cases, the new minimums would apply retroactively, giving some people currently in prison on drug offenses a new sentence.[1]. Third, the Smarter Sentencing Act would reduce the aforementioned mandatory minimum sentencing levels from 5-10-20 years to 2-5-10 years, unless death or serious bodily injury resulted, in. And there is reason to think it might succeed: it has support from the full range of the political spectrum, from Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul to Democratic stalwart Sen. Carl Levin. The good news is that all of the talk about EQUAL which makes crack sentences equal to cocaine powder sentences suggests it has the support for passage. While Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee(D-Texas) has introduced such a bill in a number of previous sessions of Congress since 2001, there is no such bill in the hopper now. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform Americas criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country. FAMM Join 10 million other Americans using GovTrack to learn about and contact your representative and senators and track what Congress is doing each day. The Senate has to confirm at least three new members and none has yet been nominated by President Biden before the Commission can do anything. Committee on the Judiciary, Durbin, Lee Introduce Smarter Sentencing Act (March 26, 2021), Congressional Record, Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions (S.1013 and S.1014) (March 25, 2021), Sentencing Law and Policy, Senators Durbin and Grassley re-introduce Smarter Sentencing Act to reduce federal drug mandatory minimums (March 26, 2021). Washington, DC 20510 The state attorneys general want legislation to change that. Would you like to join our advisory group to work with us on the future of GovTrack? is generally updated one day after events occur, and so legislative activity shown here may be one day behind. Long sentences also make it more difficult for people to reintegrate into society. 1 0 obj <> 1013 (117th) The fact that a large number of House Republicans joined Democrats in passing the EQUAL Act last year is not reassuring: the trick will be getting a Republican speaker who controls what comes up for a vote put the bill in front of the chamber. So when will Congress get to any criminal justice reform measures? Currently, a single misdemeanor in ones background can disqualify the defendant from safety valve consideration. The hearings and testimony that occurred in 2013 in relation to the 2013 version continued to be on record and in support of the 2015 version. Our mission is to empower every American with the tools to understand and impact Congress. That gives it a fighting chance of passing in todays barely Democrat-controlled Congress.. The Judiciary chair ranked criminal justice as high on his list of priorities, though he said legislation addressing crime and law enforcement may be just as challenging as immigration a famously tough area of bipartisan compromise on Capitol Hill. President Biden and his attorney general havedenounced mandatory minimums, as did former Attorney General Eric Holder. Edits include language to define a serious violent felony and reducing the terms on a number of drug offenses. They become casualties of a process that sets aside proportionality or mercy in favor of increasing the number of convictions. Hackers/journalists/researchers: See these open data sources. It would be an excellent starting point to developing a less destructive drug-sentencing scheme. This is the one from the 116 th Congress. WASHINGTON Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) cosponsored the Smarter Sentencing Act, bipartisan legislation designed to bring judicial discretion and flexibility to non-violent drug charge sentencing. In the wake of basketball star Len Bias death in 1988, Congress passed the draconian Anti Drug Abuse Act, which equated one gram of crack cocaine to 100 gramsof cocaine powder. As written The Smarter Sentencing Act proposes similar adjustments: (b)(1)(A): The 15-year mandatory minimumfor a prior drug offense would drop to 10 years, and the 10-year mandatory minimumfloor would drop to 5 years. The Brennan Center works to build an America that is democratic, just, and free. Earlier Version Half measures wont be effective; empirical work suggests that theObama administrations efforts to temper mandatory minimumsin drug cases did little to reduce sentences or racial disparities. We anticipate that the provisions of the two bills will be blended into a single package by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Congress should pass the EQUALAct to ensure these penalties are equalized and fairness is restored to criminal sentencing.C. First, a letter sent last week by 25 state attorneys general to House and Senate leadership, urging an expansion of Section 404 of the First Step Act to include people sentenced under 21 USC 841(b)(1)(C). Our burgeoning prison population traces much of its growth to the increasing number and length of certain federal mandatory sentences. Right now, a defendant with two prior drug felonies (no matter how old) caught with five kilos of cocaine gets a mandatory life term: no ifs, ands or buts. The Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 was a continued effort from the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013/2014. The original text reduces sentences by about half. Politico ran an analysis last week reporting that Sens Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are still talking about a merger of bills such as the First Step Implementation Act (S.1014), the Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1013), and the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act (S. 312) into a single narrow follow-up bill amending the First Step Act, Durbin and Grassley are calling aSecond Step Act. As long time followers will note, we have been covering the introduction of the Smarter Sentencing Act since 2015. 911 (2015) Colleen Shannon Follow this and additional works at: Part of the Criminal Law Commons, Criminal Procedure Commons, and the Law Enforcement and Corrections Commons The Bill: If passed, the Smarter Sentencing Act would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and some drug importation offenses. We must instead heedJustice Sonia Sotomayors messagethat, until we value the lives, rights, and liberties of those on the receiving end of the system, our justice system will continue to be anything but.. A bill to focus limited Federal resources on the most serious offenders. But the real work is to be done in Congress, whas yet to progress. The SSAwould make the FSA retroactive, permitting defendants sentenced harshly prior to the adoption of the law eligible for resentencing, at their judges discretion, to a more reasonable term. Several important reforms from theSmarter Sentencing Actwere included in the landmark First Step Act, which was enacted into law in 2018. Democrat. FAMM vice president Molly Gill wants to see the EQUAL Act reintroduced next session. Inflexible, harsh sentences exacerbate crime and racial disparities alike. The FSA is the law that reduces the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Moreover, the current chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is Senator Durbin and the current President campaigned on a platform that included an express promise to work for the passage of legislation to repeal mandatory minimums at the federal level. Still, EQUAL had a chance until Sen Tom Cotton (RAR) single-handedly stopped the Senate from considering the bill last Wednesday. The act also proposes to trade the language of "Felony Drug Offense" in 841 with "serious drug felony" or "serious violent felony," the new language from the FIRST STEP Act of 2018. Of all the criminal justice reform bills in Congress the First Step Implementation Act (S.1014), the Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1013), the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act (S.312), the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act (S.601), the EQUAL Act (S.79) and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (H.R. 13 Cosponsors The MOREAct would have allowed cannabis companies to open bank accounts and would have retroactively permitted changes in pot-based sentences. It might have even set a record. %PDF-1.5 Document Citations. Legal Information Services Associates LLC, Showing Some Compassion: 18 USC 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor noted last week, Biden Commutes Sentences of 31 People Who Are Already At Home Update for May 1, 2023, Code Blue At BOP, GAO Says Update for April 28, 2023, Phoning It In On Review of Magistrates Decision Not Good Enough Update for April 27, 2023, Nothing Really IS Sacred Update for April 25, 2023, Three First Step Reform Retread Bills Introduced Update for April 24, 2023, FBI Legal Handbook for Special Agents 2003, FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide 2008, FBI Manual of Investigative Operations & Guidelines 1998, FBI Manual of Administrative Operations & Procedures 1998, Federal Public Defender lawyers resources. While Ohio State law professor Doug Berman is skeptical of their chances, he notes that prior iterations of [the Smarter Sentencing Act] got votes in Senate Judiciary Committee from the likes of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed. However, despite Garlands testimony, his Department of Justice has given no sign that it will stop pursuing mandatory minimums. 801 et seq.) Committee on the Judiciary, Durbin, Lee Introduce Smarter Sentencing Act (March 26, 2021), Congressional Record, Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions (S.1013 and S.1014) (March 25, 2021), Sentencing Law and Policy, Senators Durbin and Grassley re-introduce Smarter Sentencing Act to reduce federal drug mandatory minimums (March 26, 2021), Your email address will not be published. By last week, the only hope was for banking reform nothing for federal prisoners but even that was exempted from last weeks giant end-of-year spending bill, the last chance it had for passage. If the Democrats fail to take advantage of the political opportunity in front of them, Forbes said last week, they risk ceding this issue to the Republicans if and when they take back control of Congress, possibly as soon as next year. Zip. All 50 statesand DC also have mandatory minimum sentencing laws. "Bill Summary: Smarter Sentencing Act of 2021", "Democrats and Republicans in Congress Actually Found Something to Agree on", "S. 502 / H.R. Finally, mandatory minimums do not promote community safety. Additionally, organizations were behind the bill and actively encouraging its passage. Along with Durbin and Lee, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Angus King (I-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA). endobj But efforts were severely hobbled last fall when Senate Majority Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced their own version of weed reform, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (S.4591). April 12, 2021 The Hon. The bill did not have any further action in the legislative season as was re-introduced as the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 (or S502) by Republican Senator of Utah Mike Lee. 841(b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(B). Introduced in Senate (03/25/2021) Smarter Sentencing Act of 2021 This bill reduces statutory mandatory minimum penalties for certain drug offenses, requires reporting on the impact of cost savings from the reductions, and establishes a public database of federal criminal offenses. That should make sentencing changes that much harder, Politico said. I will keep fighting to get this commonsense, bipartisan legislation through the Senate with my colleague, Senator Lee.. It was clear last summer that the First Step Implementation Act, the Smarter Sentencing Act, the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act (and the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act were going nowhere. Introduced, on this bill on a six-point scale from strongly oppose to strongly support. Both version had been moved to committee for further discussion. is not a government website. It is related to the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, the Federal Prison Reform Act of 2013 (S. 1783) and others, in an effort to deal with the over-crowded, and under-funded, federal prison system. The November 2015 edits additional safe guards from releasing repeat, violent offenders and applied retroactivity to sentences. We post news and comment on federal criminal justice issues, focused primarily on trial and post-conviction matters, legislative initiatives, and sentencing issues. such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 5 2 years and not more than 40 years and if death or serious bodily injuryresults from the use of such substance shall be not less than 20 years or more than life, a fine not to exceed the greater of that authorized in accordance with the provisions of title 18 or $5,000,000 if the defendant is an individual or $25,000,000 if the defendant is other than an individual, or both. Yes, indeedy, the 2017 version of the bill is identical to old S.502, except for a boatload more sponsors (21 from both sides of the aisle). As a result, drug sentences which are driven by the amount of drug involved in the crime soared. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that implementation of this provision would save taxpayers approximately $3 billion over ten years. Since Bidens inauguration, criminal justice reform has taken a back seat to his more prominent initiatives, last Marchs American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November, and the now seemingly-dead Build Back Better social-spending blowout. With boththe House nor Senate closed for aChristmas-Passover-Kwanzaa-New Years vacation until next Tuesday, the 117thCongress is done. (More Info). And our overreliance on prisons makes us less safe bydiverting resourcesfrom other critical public safety needs. It also provides a retroactivity provision for the court to impose a reduced sentence for those sentenced before this act gets signed after considering the 3553(a) factors. While some lonely voices are calling for passage of such a bill, with Democrats in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, expect a cacophony of Republicans claims that Democrats are to blame for rising crime rates. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss. Further, it reduces the 15 years (If any person commits such a violation after a prior conviction for a serious drug felony or serious violent felony has become final, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years and not more than life imprisonment and if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance shall be sentenced to life imprisonment) down to 10 years. In 1970, Congress repealed most drug-related mandatory minimums, taking more of apublic health approachto drug policy. For prompt, courteous and skilled representation as your federal criminal defense attorney, contact us today to schedule a free phone consultation. The year 2021 was widely seen as the end of a dark era and the beginning of a brighter one. |author=117th Congress (2021) Please sign up for our advisory group to be a part of making GovTrack a better tool for what you do. Even Grassley, who is not a co-sponsor but is unapologetically pro-reform, has outlined concerns about whether EQUAL could garner enough Republican support in the Senate to pass. The Brennan Center works to reform and defend our countrys systems of democracy and justice. And with mid-terms putting all of the House and a third of Senate up for re-election in November and crime rates shooting up, getting legislators on board for criminal justice reform is going to be more challenging. People like Cottonmake even common-sense federal criminal justice reform a hard sell. The Smarter Sentencing Act, an updated version of the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2019 (which went nowhere), continues the mandatory minimum adjustments to 21 USC 841(b), the sentencing section of the drug trafficking statute begun by the First Step Act. The Brennan Center crafts innovative policies and fights for them in Congress and the courts. The politics are hard to predict: Democrats have one more seat in the Senate, while Republicans will take narrow control of the House. On New Years Day, the San Francisco Chronicle called for a targeted bill to abolish mandatory minimums, said, The good news is that criminal justice reform can be accomplished with relatively limited expenditures compared to, for example, Build Back Betters sweeping expansion of the social safety net. Any bill now pending in the House or Senate that has not passed will disappear on Jan 3, when the new 2-year Congress the 118th convenes. Meanwhile, the less culpable little fish are yoked with high mandatory minimums. Thank you for joining the GovTrack Advisory Community! 920, the Smarter Sentencing Act",, "Kinder, gentler: Less time inside for less-serious crimes", "Too many Americans are incarcerated for too long",, United States proposed federal criminal legislation, Proposed legislation of the 113th United States Congress, Proposed legislation of the 114th United States Congress, Proposed legislation of the 115th United States Congress, Proposed legislation of the 116th United States Congress, Proposed legislation of the 117th United States Congress, All articles with bare URLs for citations, Articles with bare URLs for citations from March 2022, Articles with PDF format bare URLs for citations, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0. its mandate to formulate guidelines to minimize the likelihood that the federal prison population will exceed federal prison capacity, the intent of Congress that penalties for violent and serious drug traffickers who present public safety risks remain appropriately severe, and. ), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The bill is cosponsored by ten Democratic senators, including three presidential contenders, making the likelihood it will pass in the Senate virtually zero. We recommend the following MLA-formatted citation when using the information you see here in academic work: Last week, he wrote in Real Clear Politics: Unfortunately, soft-on-crime policies have been, at times, a bipartisan problem. It would extend retroactivity to anyone sentenced for drug or stacked 924(c) offenses sentenced prior to the 2018 First Step Act and let judges waive criminal history limitations that keep defendants from getting the 18 USC 3553 safety value. It was the end of 2020. Apr 25, 2023. Sentencing Reform: Smarter Sentencing Act @SentencingR SUPPORT PAGE FOR SENTENCING REFORM *TITLE S.1013-117th CONGRESS (2021-2022): SMARTER SENTENCING ACT 2021* Pennsylvania, USA Joined June 2021 0 Photos and videos Photos and videos Tweets TweetsTweets, current page. Sure, the publics thirst for vengeance is slaked by such toughness. As of the date of this report, we have no bill number to associate with the legislation. He added that if Democrats agree to certain provisions related to law enforcement, that might make it possible to get something done.. The bill also refines a number of Sentencing Commission goals such as keeping down the prison population and ensuring that Guidelines dont have adverse racial impacts. In the last iteration of the bill, S.1933 (115th Congress, 2017-18), the bill proposed an expanded safety valve under 18 USC 3553(f) to allow a court to impose a sentence below the statutory mandatory minimum for an otherwise eligible drug offender who has three or fewer criminal history points. And starting in 2019 well be tracking Congresss oversight investigations of the executive branch. Directs the commission to review and amend its guidelines and policy statements applicable to persons convicted of such an offense under the CSA and CSIEA to ensure consistency with this Act and to consider specified factors, including: Requires the Attorney General to report on how the reduced expenditures on federal corrections and cost savings resulting from this Act will be used to help reduce overcrowding, increase investment in law enforcement and crime prevention, and reduce recidivism. from life to 25 years for a high-level offense after two or more prior felony drug offenses, from 5 years to 2 years for a first-time low-level offense (e.g., 100 to 999 grams of heroin), and. Indeed, there are thousands of Americans still serving draconian sentences authorized by some of then-Sen. Bidens bills., Meanwhile, a piece in the Deseret News made the conservative argument for the EQUAL Act, which would retroactively make crack cocaine sentencing levels equal to those of powder cocaine: The EQUAL Act already passed through the U.S. House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 36-5, garnering support from both sides of the aisle. Amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (CSIEA) to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, importing, or exporting specified controlled substances. The bill was held over during several meetings in the fourth quarter of 2013. Your email address will not be published. Were looking to learn more about who uses GovTrack and what features you find helpful or think could be improved. subsequent sessions of Congress in new bills, or added to larger bills (sometimes called omnibus bills). But somehow, when the public sees the same defendant, bent and gray, shuffling across the prison yard a quarter century later, the tough sentence seems pretty wasteful. from 10 years to 5 years for a low-level offense after one prior felony drug offense. And we will start all over again, but with a much unfriendlier House of Representatives. By June 2014, 25 co-sponsoring Senators (17 Democrat, 6 Republican and 2 Independent) joined to show their support. FAMM supports this bill. Another study similarly finds that some federal prosecutors charge Black and Latino individuals more often than white individuals with possession or sale of a quantity of drugs just sufficient to trigger a mandatory minimum; the disparity is highest in states with higher levels of racial animus.. Under the 2018 bill, the change affected people sentenced under 841(b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(B), but not people sentenced under the lowest level of sentence, 841(b)(1)(C). A lot of what had been contained in prior versions of the SSA, a bill which has been introduced in every Congress since 2013, was included in the First Step Act. Phone: (202) 822-6700, FAMM releases statement on the introduction of the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2021, FAMM and NACDL Present: The Vanishing Trial, FAMMsubmits testimony in support of Illinois medical release bill, FAMM releases statement followingSenate introduction of the First Step Implementation Act. Last week, Unfortunately, soft-on-crime policies have been, at times, a bipartisan problem. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that implementation of this provision would save taxpayers approximately $3 billion over ten years. And his Dept, of Justice finally reinterpreted the CARES Act to let people on home confinement stay there. Lee and Durbin first introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act in 2013. While the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the crack-cocaine disparity bill last year, it has yet to schedule a markup. endobj At the federal level alone, mandatory minimum penalties form the cornerstone of the human caging system. That means that the reform bills now in front of Congress still have a chance. (2023). <> In a political environment where the parties compete for who can be more pro-criminal, the Democrats will always win. May 1, 2023 . We hope to make GovTrack more useful to policy professionals like you. The sheer number of motions likely to be filed might be enough to give Congress pause on this one. Copyright 2016-Present The Law Office of Jeremy Gordon. ], Far from the only effect, the Jackson hearings have also dampened the interest in doing what we call the Second Step Act, but were still seeing what can be worked out, Grassley said in a brief interview. It was proposed to strike "mandatory life imprisonment to "not less than 25 years. The mandatory minimum for a courier under 21 USC 960, the importation statute, would essentially be cut in half. He has promised clemency reform. Second, a lot of criticism of the President over the CARES Act. See Terms of Service, TWO BILLS CUTTING MANDATORY MINIMUMS, PROPOSING RETROACTIVITY, INTRODUCED INSENATE, 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, Sen. Durbin said in a press release. Baltimore, MD 21201 Given that reform efforts by the Department of Justice would provide, at best, a temporary fix, congressional action is needed to shift the paradigm and mitigate racial inequality. So what is real? Smarter Sentencing Act of 2021 This bill reduces statutory mandatory minimum penalties for certain drug offenses, requires reporting on the impact of cost savings from the reductions, and establishes a public database of federal criminal offenses. Either MOREor CAOA would have been good for prisoners, but Democratic leaderships push of an alternative bill diluted the groundswell of support needed to get MORE passed. Sens. . So the climate for criminal justice reform is getting ugly. The Smarter Sentencing Act gives federal judges the authority to conduct individualized reviews to determine the appropriate sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses. The bipartisan bill introduction was led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). First, a letter sent last week by 25 state attorneys general to House and Senate leadership, urging an expansion of, Second, a lot of criticism of the President over the, So when will Congress get to any criminal justice reform measures? The 10-year mandatory minimum (for 1 kilo or more of heroin or five kilos or more of cocaine) would drop to five years. Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience and may not be complete or accurate. Consequently, the least culpable players incur severe punishments, while the most culpable leverage their knowledge into lenient plea deals. On March 25, 2021, Senators Durbin and several others introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2021. Then, Sen Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and introduced his SMART Cocaine Sentencing Act (S. 4116), which watered down EQUAL and put retroactivity in the hands of the Dept of Justice. FAMMs focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies at the state and federal level and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day. "Sec. But nothing can stop politicians from talking, even during vacations. The Smarter Sentencing Act also adds a courier exception to the importation statute of 21 usc 960, the importation statute. Reason, In 2021, Qualified Immunity Reform Died a Slow, Painful Death (December 30, 2021), Forbes, The Least Eventful Year for Marijuana (December 31, 2021), San Francisco Chronicle, Bidens agenda is stuck. virtual piano classical trello, citrus college registration dates, ,
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