Today, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013, whose purpose is to focus limited federal resources on the most serious offenders. The Brennan Center filed a letter to express support for the legislation.
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. These include the expanded use of mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes, the increasing federalization of crimes, and the abolition of parole for federal inmates.
In the following letter, the Brennan Center expresses support for this legislation that attempts to shift our nation’s punitive sentencing policies to more rational and fair criminal justice laws.
Specifically, the Brennan Center supports the legislation’s provisions that would:
- Amend the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to permit retroactive application to prisoners serving sentences for drug offenses;
- Reduce the severity and scope of mandatory minimum penalties;
- Order the U.S. Sentencing Commission to amend the federal sentencing guidelines to effectuate its mandate to consider federal prison capacity; and
- Require the Attorney General to report on cost savings.