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The Sentencing Project Calls on Congress to Pass First Step Act
December 6 – December 18, 2018
the sentencing project

The Sentencing Project is urging Congress to move quickly to pass the sentencing reform measures in the First Step Act (S.3649) "to help create a safer, more equitable, and fairer justice system."

The Sentencing Project previously expressed reservations about the First Step Act that passed the House of Representatives in May. The inclusion of modest but critical sentencing reforms, as well as updates to the bill's prison reform measures, including an increase in authorization amounts to fund federal prison programing (such as GED instruction), moved the organization to endorse the revised legislation introduced this month by Senators Charles Grassley and Richard Durbin and supported by President Trump.

Unfortunately, says the Sentencing Project, most people in prison will be excluded from seeking relief from the excesses of mandatory minimum sentences, except those serving sentences for crack cocaine prior to passage of the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010. Signed during the Obama Administration, the 2010 Act reduced the disparity between the amount of crack cocaine and powder cocaine needed to trigger certain federal criminal penalties.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 implemented the initial disparity, reflecting Congress's view that crack cocaine was a more dangerous and harmful drug than powder cocaine. Ronald Reagan was president in 1986.

Today, about half of the federal prison population is serving time for a drug offense, including many people who are in the lower levels of the drug trade, were not caught with weapons, or have limited criminal histories.
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