On February 12, 2015, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 (S.502/H.R.920), a bill aimed at reforming federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The bill would create fairer sentencing laws, make the federal criminal justice system more cost-effective and improve public safety.
The Smarter Sentencing Act would help restore judicial discretion, lessen racial disparities and serve to bring about a less retributive criminal justice system. The bill would modernize federal drug sentencing policies by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of non-violent drug offenses, recognizing that our mandatory five-, 10- and 20-year sentences for many drug offenders are too often applied to nonviolent, low-level or drug-addicted offenders. The bill also expands the “safety valve” that can give judges discretion to impose sentences below mandatory minimum levels when appropriate. Additionally, the bill would correct a lingering injustice by allowing certain inmates sentenced under the pre-Fair Sentencing Act sentencing regime to petition for sentence reductions consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act and current law. The bill would reduce overcrowding in our prisons nationwide and improve public safety by allowing law enforcement to focus resources on the most dangerous criminals.