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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

New Legislation in the House would Eliminate Mandatory Minimums

September 24, 2015 | Justice | Comments
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A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives would eliminate all mandatory minimum prison sentences for individuals convicted of violating drug laws. The Mandatory Minimum Reform Act (H.R. 3530), introduced by the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), has 9 original cosponsors. The introduction of this measure is the latest in a growing number of criminal justice reform efforts this Congress.

“Judges and others deserve the opportunity to look at each individual and their case, understand something about them, and make the decision based on the facts that have been presented to them,” Waters said last week at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. “There should be no ‘cookie cutter’ in justice …when you have to look in the book and [say] ‘OK, and this is what we’re going to do.’ If you can do that, you don’t need a judge.”

In 2013, the Department of Justice announced it would no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. The Mandatory Minimum Reform Act would extend that discretion to all nonviolent drug crimes and would codify the change in practice into law.