The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 was a critical step for mandatory minimum
reform. Now, new legislation would make further improvements to eliminate
harsh and unfair sentencing for certain crimes.
Two bills, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), an advocate for sentencing
reform, would take the next logical steps to improve sentencing in the
Understanding the proposed legislation:
The Fair Sentencing Clarification Act (H.R. 1252)
This legislation would make The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive.
This means that federal prisons who were sentenced before the act could
still reap the benefits of the reform if their cases meet the right specifications.
The Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act (H.R. 1255)
This bill would dissolve the discrepancy between penalties for powder
and cocaine sentencing. In other words, equal amounts of each drug would
prompt the same legal penalties.
Man Serves 55-Year Sentence for Non-Violent Marijuana Crime
In an interview with
ABC News, a former federal judge told reports that he regrets giving a 24-year-old
defendant a 55-year sentence for marijuana sales.
He said, "That wasn't the right thing to do. The system forced
me to do it."
The defendant was arrested for dealing marijuana when law enforcement set
up multiple sting operations with the help of an informant. During the
proceedings, the informant made a claim that changed the case: The defendant
had a gun.
"A mandatory minimum is a sentence that says a judge has to impose
a particular minimum number of years," said the judge who handled
the case. In this situation, the presence of a gun necessitated a 55-year
mandatory minimum sentence.
Raising Awareness for Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Reform
While sentence reform is moving in the right direction, the vast majority
of Americans remain unaware of the unreasonable prison sentences that
exist for many crimes in the United States.
Until you face the possibility of years in prison, it is easy to ignore
the harsh penalties the U.S. justice system imposes on citizens. Many
Americans are realizing that its time for reform in this country, not
just at the federal level, but the state levels as well.