Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions’ push for tougher sentences:

Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions’ push for tougher sentences:

Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are pushing back against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ order last week directing federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have reintroduced the Justice Safety Valve Act in response to the drastic shift from Obama-era guidelines, which urged prosecutors to crack down on violent criminals and leaders of drug cartels while being more lenient with non-violent, low-level drug offenders.

The legislation unveiled Tuesday gives federal judges the ability to impose sentences below the mandatory minimums when appropriate.

Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced a companion bill in the House.

Paul was quick to criticize Sessions’ marching order last week, writing in a CNN op-ed that the directive would “accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system.”

“Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionally affect minorities and low-income communities, while doing little to keep us safe and turning mistakes into tragedies. As this legislation demonstrates, Congress can come together in a bipartisan fashion to change these laws,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

The lawmakers claim the judicial discretion created by the two-page bill will help reduce the bloated federal prison population and tackle dangerous overcrowding while ensuring sentences fit the circumstances of the crime.

BY LYDIA WHEELER

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s