“The Smarter Sentencing Act is the most significant piece of criminal justice reform to make it to the Senate floor in several years,” explained the director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office Laura W. Murphy. “Extreme, one-size-fits-all sentencing has caused our federal prison population to balloon out of control, and it’s time to change these laws that destroy lives and waste taxpayer dollars. We’re disappointed by the new mandatory minimums, but the base bill of the Smarter Sentencing Act is a much needed next step toward a fairer criminal justice system.”
Sen. Richard Durbin (D- Ill.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are responsible for bringing the Smarter Sentencing Act to the fore earlier this year. The legislation, if passed, will reduce five, 10, and 20 year mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses to two, five, and 10 years respectively, as reported by the ACLU. Also, the bill will grant judges greater autonomy in the area of sentencing non-violent people who pose no risk to society.
The bill, too, applies the Fair Sentencing Act, which is designed to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, to all who were sentenced prior to the act being passed. Many people who are wasting away inside of a jail cell will have their sentences shortened if this bill is passed.
Thankfully, something is finally being done about the overpopulated prison system. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, the federal prison population has ballooned by 800 percent since 1980.
Barry is a student of life. Other than writing, he enjoys mathematics and philosophy. Reach him @ Barryburchjr@gmail.com