The Brennan Center Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Sentencing Reform Bill

August 1, 2013

New York, NY – The Brennan Center for Justice applauds the introduction of the Smarter Sentencing Act. Introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT), the bipartisan bill would reform overly severe drug sentencing policies and give federal judges greater flexibility in sentencing. The bill would also allow courts to retroactively apply provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act to adjust the sentences of some individuals. 

"People have been sentenced under punitive policies that do not match their crimes for far too long,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director of the Brennan Center’s Washington D.C. Office. "This has produced vast racial disparities and taken an economic and societal toll on the entire country."

“This bill takes a much-need step toward reducing unnecessarily harsh sentencing policies and creates a more rational, fair, and cost-effective criminal justice system,” said Inimai Chettiar, Director of the Brennan Center's Justice Program. “Making it law would reduce the federal prison population and further energize states to take similar action."

Since 1980, the federal prison population has increased by almost 790 percent. Several key legislative acts contributed to the exponential increase in the federal prison population, including the expanded use of mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes, the increasing federalization of crimes, and the abolition of parole for federal inmates.

Read the Brennan Center’s letter to the Judiciary Committee supporting the Smarter Sentencing Act.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Seth Hoy at seth.hoy@nyu.edu or (646) 292-8369.