Senators Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 [UPH Wire]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
Thursday, October 1, 2015
*Senators Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections
Act of 2015*
*Click here to watch Senator
Lee’s remarks *

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators led by Senate Judiciary
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick
Durbin today is introducing comprehensive legislation aimed at
recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders, targeting
violent criminals, and granting judges greater discretion at sentencing for
lower-level drug crimes. The package also seeks to curb recidivism by
helping prisoners successfully re-enter society. The *Sentencing Reform and
Corrections Act of 2015* is also sponsored by Senators John Cornyn
(R-Texas), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Charles Schumer
(D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Cory Booker
(D-N.J.).

“Since my time as a federal prosecutor, I have been concerned that federal
sentencing laws too often require punishments that just don’t fit the
crime. These laws require many nonviolent offenders to spend years in
prison, often with few opportunities for meaningful reform. Today’s
legislation addresses both of these problems by reducing mandatory minimums
and by expanding opportunities for programs that have been proven to reduce
recidivism. I am grateful for the close collaboration with senators from
both parties that has made this important bill a reality today,” *Lee said
*.
“This historic reform bill addresses legitimate over-incarceration concerns
while targeting violent criminals and masterminds in the drug trade. It’s
the product of thoughtful bipartisan deliberation, and I thank my
colleagues for their hard work to promote opportunities to reduce
recidivism while protecting our communities from violent career criminals.
This bill is an important component in my ongoing effort as Judiciary
Committee chairman to ensure access to justice for both the victims and the
accused,” *Grassley said*.
“This compromise represents more than three years of work on criminal
justice reform. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than
any other country on earth. Mandatory minimum sentences were once seen as a
strong deterrent. In reality they have too often been unfair, fiscally
irresponsible and a threat to public safety. Given tight budgets and
overcrowded prison cells, our country must reform these outdated and
ineffective laws that have cost American taxpayers billions of dollars.
This bipartisan group is committed to getting this done,” *Durbin said.*
“This legislation is modeled after successful Texas reforms that have
rehabilitated prisoners, reduced crime rates, and saved taxpayer dollars.
This bipartisan package will protect law enforcement’s ability to
aggressively target violent criminals and serious offenders, while focusing
on justice, rehabilitation, and public safety. I look forward to working
with this bipartisan coalition to move this bill through Congress and to
the President’s desk,” *Cornyn said*.
“This bill marks an important step toward making our criminal justice
system fairer by reducing overcrowded prison populations and giving
prisoners the help they need to avoid committing future crimes. It also
reflects a growing bipartisan recognition that we cannot incarcerate our
way to safer communities, and that the current system too often pushes
individuals into a cycle of recidivism that is hard to break. I thank
Chairman Grassley for leading the long, thorough and collaborative process,
respecting a wide range of views, that ultimately produced this bill, and
I’m proud to support it,” *Whitehouse said*.
“Crafting criminal justice reform in this Congress is like a Rubik’s cube,
but this group of Republicans and Democrats worked hard to come up with a
fair and balanced package that will make a real difference. This bill would
make much needed reforms to sentencing for non-violent offenders, resulting
in a much fairer criminal justice system. I’m hopeful that we can continue
moving the ball forward in a bipartisan way to make the reforms our system
needs,” *Schumer said*.
“We maintain the tools law enforcement needs to continue making sure that
the worst drug traffickers and violent criminals stay off of our streets.
We also provide flexibility in sentencing for those offenders that deserve
it. I’m proud to support this important legislation,” *Graham said*.
“The broad bipartisan nature of this bill marks a new chapter in criminal
justice reform. Although I wish this bill did more, it will impact
thousands of lives and save millions of dollars. And, critically, its
changes are not just forward looking. By applying many of these reforms
retroactively, Congress is, for the first time, acknowledging that when we
pass unfair laws, we have a moral responsibility to fix our mistakes. Real
people, like Weldon Angelos, are paying with decades of their lives. We
must keep pushing and see that this bill is enacted,” *Leahy said*.
“For decades, our broken criminal justice system has held our nation back
from realizing its full potential. Today, we take a step forward. Mass
incarceration has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, drained our economy,
compromised public safety, hurt our children, and disproportionately
affected communities of color while devaluing the very idea of justice in
America. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is a promising,
bipartisan step forward to help right this wrong,” *Booker said*.
The bill narrows the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus
on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals, while broadening
and establishing new outlets for individuals with minimal non-felony
criminal histories that may trigger mandatory minimum sentences under
current law. The bill also reduces certain mandatory minimums, providing
judges with greater discretion when determining appropriate sentences, and
preserves cooperation incentives to aid law enforcement in tracking down
kingpins.
In addition to reducing prison terms for certain offenders through
sentencing reform, qualifying inmates can earn reduced sentences through
recidivism reduction programs outlined in the *CORRECTIONS Act* introduced
by Cornyn and Whitehouse. The bill also makes retroactive the Fair
Sentencing Act and certain statutory reforms that address inequities in
drug sentences.
For more information on the *Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015*,
see the following documents:
· One-page bill summary

· Section-by-section

*Communications Director*
Conn Carroll
Conn_Carroll@lee.senate.gov
202-224-3904
*Press Secretary*
Emily Long
Emily_Long@lee.senate.gov
202-224-3904

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