August 2013: Attorney General Eric Holder About to Announce Sentencing Reforms

August 01, 2013

We here at National Prison and Sentencing (NPSC) were pleased, in fact elated, to see that United States Attorney General Eric Holder has finally recognized that sentences in the United States for non-violent federal offenses and drug offenders are unduly harsh. Last week, Attorney General Holder stated that there are too many people in federal prison and it is time for federal sentencing reform. He could announce major changes as early as next week. We await his specific proposal, of course, and are hopeful that he will prioritize federal criminal prosecutions and a long established policy of the Government to always seek the harshest punishments possible.

There are also three pending Bills in Congress that will go a long way to reduce the federal prison population

o The Safety Valve Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Republican Senator Rand Paul, and in the U.S. House by Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott and Republican Congressman Thomas Massie. The bills would allow federal judges to sentence nonviolent offenders below the federal mandatory minimum sentence if a lower sentence is warranted.
o The Smarter Sentencing Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Mike Lee, which would lower mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses, make the recent reduction in the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity retroactive, and give judges more discretion to sentence certain offenders below the mandatory minimum sentence if warranted.
o The Public Safety Enhancement Act, introduced in the U.S. House by Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott, which would allow certain federal prisoners to be transferred from prison to community supervision earlier if they take rehabilitation classes, saving taxpayer money while improving public safety.
Feel free to contact NPSC for additional information