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March 31, 2021

King Cosponsors Bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act

Legislation would remove “one-size-fits-all” approach to drug offenders, taking into account details of case and offense

BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his support for bipartisan legislation that would revise federal mandatory drug sentencing policies to allow for judicial discretion.  By allowing flexibility in the courtrooms, the Smarter Sentencing Act gives federal judges the authority to conduct individualized reviews to determine the appropriate sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses.

“When nonviolent offenders spend decades in prison, we’re wasting valuable time and resources that could be used much more efficiently,” said Senator King. “A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not work in sentencing, and that’s why I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues in support of the Smarter Sentencing Act again. With a few of its provisions enacted as part of the First Step Act, it’s clearly past time to push this bill over the finish line as we continue our efforts to make sure punishments fit the crime.”

Along with Senator King, the bill is supported by Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss,), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Senator King cosponsored the initial version of the Smarter Sentencing Act in the 115th Congress, which included several important provisions enacted into law as part of the landmark First Step Act, which Senator King also cosponsored. Today’s legislation would enact the central remaining provision of the original 2018 bill: reducing mandatory minimum penalties for certain nonviolent drug offenses. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that implementation of this provision would save taxpayers approximately $3 billion over ten years. Senator King has also previously cosponsored the Second Chance Act Reauthorization Act, which funds programs to assist with successful prisoner reentry into society.

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