Senator Lee Makes Case for Reform in Criminal Justice Hearing [UPH Wire]

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
Monday, October 19, 2015

*View Senator Lee’s questions here
and here
*

*Lee Makes Case for Reform in Criminal Justice Hearing*

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) participated in Senate Judiciary
Committee hearing on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015
.

Senator Lee is an original co-sponsor of this legislation, which has strong
bipartisan support in the Senate. President Obama is a fervent advocate for
criminal justice reform, and dedicated his most recent weekly address
to the topic.

Below you will find the text of Senator Lee’s opening remarks, which can be
viewed here ,
in addition to his exchange with Deputy Attorney General Sally Quinn Yates.
His questioning of former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, Brett L.
Tolman can be viewed here
.

“Since my time as a prosecutor, I have been concerned by the excesses of
our federal criminal justice system. That’s why, more than two years ago
now, Senator Durbin and I first introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act. We
had seen welcome reductions in our crime rate, and we wanted to couple that
progress with reforms that would make sentencing more fair and efficient
without reducing public safety. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act
achieves that goal.

“Our criminal justice system has to be pliable enough to apply in many
different situations. Prosecutors and judges must have the ability to
impose lengthy sentences on serious offenders who pose the greatest threat
to public safety. So this bill leaves untouched the maximum penalty levels
that exist under current law, and for some offenders, it increases those
punishments. It also does not eliminate any mandatory minimum sentences
but instead takes a targeted approach, reducing the harshest mandatory
penalties and providing limited relief for low-level offenders with limited
criminal history.

“It is not just to keep people in jail until they are 70 or 80 just because
they sold drugs three times fifty to sixty years ago. Unfortunately, this
is precisely the situation we have created with our lengthy mandatory
prison sentences, as those of you who have heard me tell the story of
Weldon Angelos well know. Sentences like these are just too high: they
impose real costs, both human and financial; they are out of step with
American tradition; and they have to be fixed. It’s not sufficient anymore
to say that sentences like these – sentences that don’t fit the crime – are
the cost of doing business. They aren’t – we can fix them, and this bill
does.”

*Communications Director*
Conn Carroll
Conn_Carroll@lee.senate.gov
202-224-5444

*Press Secretary*
Emily Long
Emily_Long@lee.senate.gov
202-224-3904

###


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