U.S. One Step Closer to Sentencing Reform
The U.S. is now one step closer to desperately needed sentencing reform with the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act, H.R. 3713, which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last month. With 77 percent of U.S. citizens in favor of eliminating mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenders, if this act is eventually signed into law, certain people serving time for nonviolent drug offenses may be eligible for resentencing.
The Act still has a long way to go and will be subject to numerous revisions, but here are the provisions as they currently stand:
- Minimum term for third drug offenses will be reduced from life in prison to 25 years
- Minimum sentence for second drug offenses will be reduced from 20 years to 15 years
- List of prior convictions exposing offenders to these sentences will be broadened
- Certain non-violent drug offenders with non-serious criminal histories will receive sentences below the minimum through the “drug safety valve” exception
- The Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) will retroactively apply to crack cocaine offenders who received sentencing prior to August 3, 2010
- The minimum for certain gun possessions by offenders with previous criminal convictions will be reduced from 15 years to 10 years
- The minimum sentence for offenders with multiple drug convictions related to drug trafficking will be reduced from 25 years to 15 years
- Reporting and data collection will be required for all mandatory minimum sentencing with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Sentencing Commission
If and when sentencing reform is signed into law, many individuals serving time for nonviolent crimes may be eligible for resentencing.
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