There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Congress and throughout the country that mandatory minimums make our criminal justice system unjust. Not only does our system also displays deep racial disparities, on the federal level, half of all inmates are locked up for drug crimes. Many of these individuals are serving harsh mandatory minimum sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes they committed. There have been legislative proposals to reform sentencing and corrections, and the Obama administration issued guidelines instructing federal prosecutors to not seek mandatory minimums to ameliorate these challenges in lieu of system-wide reform.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently revoked these guidelines, reinstating the high likelihood that offenders may face longer sentences that many have deemed to be unjust. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), along with Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) have introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act (S. 1127/H.R. 2435) in order to return discretion to federal judges in sentencing decisions. This bill would expand the safety valve, a tool judges can use to sentence offenders below the mandatory minimum in certain cases.
Urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Justice Safety Valve Act today.