REFORM Mandatory Minimums for Nonviolent Drug Offenses by Supporting the SAFE Justice Act.
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WE write today to urge you to support the Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act of 2015 (H.R. 2944), cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
This important bill would take policies that are being used to reduce crime and corrections costs in states across the country and apply them to the federal criminal justice system. Most importantly, the bill would reform federal mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. These reforms would save money, strengthen families, and protect communities. More than 30 states across the country have reformed or repealed their mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, and crime has continued to drop. It's time for Congress to follow the states' example.
Mandatory minimum sentences are why our federal prison population has exploded in the last 30 years. Federal prisons consume 30 percent of the Justice Department’s budget – and half of all federal prisoners are drug offenders. Money that could be spent on law enforcement or investigating terrorism and violent crimes is instead being spent on feeding, housing, and caring for over 100,000 low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.
Our mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws were created for kingpins, but they are instead used for low-level, nonviolent people who are the small fish in drug offenses. The SAFE Justice Act limits the application of lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences to high-level traffickers in large operations, as Congress originally intended. This reform is long overdue.
The SAFE Justice Act already has wide bipartisan and law enforcement support. The bill does not eliminate or reduce mandatory minimum sentences, but will save the harshest punishments for the worst offenders. This means a fairer, more effective, less expensive system -- a benefit for taxpayers, public safety, and the families who suffer when a loved one gets too much time in prison for a nonviolent drug crime. For these reasons, I ask you to support the SAFE Justice Act and make better use of our crime-fighting funds.
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