July 24, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. This comprehensive and bipartisan legislation aims to reduce mandatory minimums for certain non-violent offenders, so law enforcement can devote their resources to targeting individuals such as drug kingpins, drug manufacturers, and violent criminals. Under this bill, judges would be better able to take individual circumstances into account at sentencing so that they can make sure that the appropriate punishment fits the crime, while still preserving mandatory minimum sentences as a valuable tool for law enforcement. This bill was originally introduced by Iowa’s Charles Grassley (R) and Illinois’s Dick Durbin (D) and has broad bipartisan support including Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
“Our current criminal justice system isn’t working for anyone – not for those who spend decades in prison for nonviolent offenses, not for members of law enforcement, and certainly not for taxpayers. There has to be a better way,” said Senator King. “We need to let law enforcement officials take individual circumstances into account during sentencing, so they can focus their efforts on violent offenders – because it’s simply wrong that someone who is suffering from substance use disorders should face the same prison sentence as the person who is dealing them the drugs. This bipartisan bill would ensure that the punishment fits the crime for individuals with minimal, non-violent criminal histories – it’s simply commonsense.”
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act narrows the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals, while broadening and establishing new outlets for individuals with minimal non-violent criminal histories that may trigger mandatory minimum sentences under current law. The bill also reduces certain mandatory minimums and provides judges with greater discretion when determining appropriate sentences. Under the bill, courts must first review eligible inmates’ individual cases, including criminal histories and conduct while incarcerated, before determining whether a sentence reduction is appropriate. Additionally, the bill includes recidivism reduction programs to prepare low-risk inmates to return to society.
In 2017, Senator King cosponsored the Smarter Sentencing Reform Act, a bill to provide alternatives to mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses. Senator King has previously cosponsored the Second Chance Act Reauthorization, which funds programs to assist with successful prisoner reentry into society.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act was introduced by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ari.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Ind.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R- Mo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Bill Nelson (D-Flo.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont), Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.), Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)