Historic Sentencing Reform Bill Unanimously Passes U.S. House Judiciary Committee

drugwarjailEarlier today the United States House Judiciary Committee gave unanimous approval to the Sentencing Reform Act, a historic bill that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, expand judges discretions to give sentences lower than the mandatory minimums in some cases, while making most of the sentencing changes apply retroactively.

“This vote today is a significant step toward reducing the federal prison population,” says Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We have a bill moving in the Senate, and now we have a companion bill moving in the House, so I’m optimistic we’ll have legislation on the President’s desk in a matter of months.”

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Federal Bill Introduced to End Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenses

gavelU.S. Representative Maxine Walters, from California’s 43rd District, has introduced legislation (H.R. 3489) in the House of Representatives that would finally put an end to unjust mandatory minimum penalties in place for drug offenses.

The proposal, which has sevens cosponsors, would “eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses.” It’s been assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the House Judiciary Committee.

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President Obama Calls for Expansive Criminal Justice Reform, Reduction or End to Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenses

President Obama speeking at the NAACP's 106th annual convention.
President Obama speaking at the NAACP’s 106th annual convention.

During the 106th annual convention of the NAACP, President Obama called for expansive criminal justice reform across the United States.

“Mass incarceration makes our entire country worse off, and we need to do something about it.” said President Obama during the July 14th speech. “In too many cases, our criminal justice system ends up being a pipeline from underfunded, inadequate schools to overcrowded jails.”

Read morePresident Obama Calls for Expansive Criminal Justice Reform, Reduction or End to Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenses

U.S. Attorney General to Announce Scale-Back of War on Drugs

In a new policy shift which will be officially announced Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the United States Justice Department willericholder be scaling back the war on drugs, including ending the use of mandatory minimum charges for nonviolent drug offenders.

Attorney General Holder will announce the changes tomorrow at a speech being given to the American Bar Association in San Francisco; Holder will announce that the he is “mandating that drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels and no history of violence won’t be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimums”.

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