Sentencing Reforms Progress in U.S. Senate - Articles

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Posted by: Brittany Sims on Feb 6, 2014

The Obama Administration made some headway last week in its effort to reduce what it sees as overly harsh sentences for drug crimes, Associations Now reports. The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) is looking to commute the sentences of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders still serving prison time due to sentences imposed during the crack cocaine epidemic. The ABA Journal cites a New York Times report that President Barack Obama is looking to grant clemency to offenders as part of the administration's effort to "undo a disparity that flooded the nation’s prison system and disproportionately affected black men."

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently voted to advance the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for some drug-related crimes by half. But not everyone at DOJ agrees with the administration's position. The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys announced its opposition to the proposal last week. And outside groups that have long advocated for mandatory minimum reform expressed concern that an amendment added during committee consideration creates a new new mandatory minimum in cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse.