Pass the Justice Safety Valve Act
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When my brother was sentenced to 55 years for a nonviolent marijuana offense eleven years ago, the judge who sentenced him strongly opposed sending a father of three to prison for so long. But because of mandatory minimum sentencing, he had no choice.
Now, a new bill in Congress will give judges the authority to give sentences lower than the mandatory punishment in certain cases where the sentence is excessive.
The Justice Safety Valve Act will finally let judges do what they're supposed to: judge! It would allow judges to sentence a person to less prison time than the mandatory minimum law requires whenever the mandatory minimum sentence is unjust or excessive. Federal judges are currently bound to sentence offenders in compliance with mandatory minimum sentences, resulting in unfair sentences and an explosion in the prison population.
My brother's judge called the sentence “unjust, cruel, and even irrational.” He's not the only one. There are judges all over the country who oppose mandatory minimum sentencing because these laws prevent them from using their discretion to hand out the appropriate sentence and often force them to destroy families.
In a recent interview, Weldon's judge said, “If he had been an aircraft hijacker, he would have gotten 24 years in prison. If he’d been a terrorist, he would have gotten 20 years in prison. If he was a child rapist, he would have gotten 11 years in prison. And now I’m supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? I mean, that’s just not right.”
The Justice Safety Valve Act has bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House -- but your lawmakers need to hear from you. We can pass this bill and greatly improve the criminal justice system.
Please sign my petition calling on Congress to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act.
Cosponsor the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2015.
I'm writing as your constituent to ask that you cosponsor S.353 / H.R.706, the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2015.
This bill authorizes a federal court to impose a sentence in a criminal proceeding that is below the minimum sentence required by statute if the court finds that a lower sentence is necessary to avoid violating statutory factors that the court must consider in imposing a sentence. The court must give parties to the proceeding notice of its intent to impose a lower sentence and state in writing the factors requiring such a sentence.
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