DEFENDER SERVICES OFFICE
- Sentencing Reform Bills Reintroduced with Bipartisan Support in the Senate and the House: Both the Smarter Sentencing Act and the Justice Safety Valve Act have been reintroduced in 2015.
The new version of the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, S. 502 (introduced 2/12/15 by Senators Lee and Durbin, and co-sponsored by Senators Cruz, Leahy, Flake, Booker, Paul, Whitehouse, and Coons), H.R. 920 (introduced 2/12/15 by Congressmen Labrador and Scott) would:
Reduce the mandatory minimum from 10 to 5 years under 841(b)(1)(A), and from 5 to 2 years under 841(b)(1)(B);
Reduce the mandatory minimum for one 851 from 20 to 10 years under 841(b)(1)(A), and for any number of 851s from 10 to 5 years under 841(b)(1)(B);
Under 21 USC 960, apply the above reductions in mandatory minimums to “couriers,” i.e., those whose role in the offense was limited to transporting or storing drugs or money;
Reduce the mandatory minimum for two or more 851s under 841(b)(1)(A) from life to 25 years (Senate) or 20 years (House);
Clarify that the Fair Sentencing Act mandatory minimums are retroactive and provide its own mechanism for relief apart from 3582(c)(2) and 1B1.10.
Expand safety valve to include defendants in Criminal History Category II.
Commission shall amend drug and safety valve guidelines consistent with the Act – i.e., cut guidelines by 50-60%.
Both the Department of Justice and the Sentencing Commission support the Smarter Sentencing Act. DOJ estimates that the Act would result in $3.426 billion in cost savings and another $3.964 billion in cost aversions in the first 10 years. For more on the Act, see FAMM's
U.S. House and Senate Reintroduce an *Even Smarter* Smarter Sentencing Act.
The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2015, S. 353 (introduced by Senators Leahy and Paul 2/3/15), H.R. 706 (introduced by Congressmen Scott and Massie 2/4/15) states:
“Notwithstanding any provision of law other than this subsection, the court may impose a sentence below a statutory minimum if the court finds that it is necessary to do so in order to avoid violating the requirements of” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)."