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November 20, 2019

King Seeking Further Bipartisan Progress on Criminal Justice Reform

Senator cosponsors Smarter Sentencing Act to modernize drug penalties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to support the Smarter Sentencing Act, bipartisan legislation aiming to modernize federal drug sentencing policies by reducing mandatory minimum penalties for certain nonviolent drug offenses.

“Under our current criminal justice system, nonviolent offenders spend decades in prison, drawing much-needed law enforcement and taxpayer dollars from other priorities. Enacting last year’s FIRST Step Act into law was a good start– but there’s still work to be done,” said Senator King. “Instead of using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to sentencing, let’s advance this bipartisan work to apply our criminal justice resources wisely and make sure that punishments that fit the crime.”

Senator King cosponsored the initial version of the Smarter Sentencing Act in the previous Congress, which included several important provisions enacted into law last year 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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