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Statement on Legislation Providing Flexibility in Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Member of the House Judiciary Committee co-sponsored the bipartisan "Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013," which would provide judges broader flexibility in tailoring prison sentences and help to reduce the overcrowded prison population.

The legislation was authored by Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) and will work to end the one size fits all approach federal mandatory minimums require judges to take when deciding sentencing.

The legislation calls for expanding the current "safety valve" provision to include all federal crimes so that judges can issue the most appropriate punishments for crimes that come before their courts.

Mandatory minimum sentences have resulted in many unjust sentences that do not fit the crimes committed, forcing an unnecessary expansion of the prison population and wasted resources for keeping communities safe.

"I'm thankful to Congressmen Scott and Massie for their bipartisan leadership on this issue," said Congresswoman Bass. "We are long past the need to reform mandatory minimum laws so that the hands of judges are not unnecessarily tied when exacting punishment for crimes. This is a commonsense fix that will help to address the bloated prison populations which are disproportionately minority and filled with individuals doing far too much time relative to the crime they committed. The legislation will help to keep communities safe by better utilizing tax payer dollars and allowing judges more flexibility in setting appropriate sentencing."

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