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Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Historic Criminal Justice Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

jail prison daniel chong deaToday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15 to 5 to advance the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The bill, introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and sponsored by ten other Senators, would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, expand the federal “safety valve” (which allows judges to use their discretion to sentence people below statutory mandatory minimums), expand reentry programming and early release, and make many of the sentencing reductions retroactive.

“This vote today is a huge step toward ending the failed policies of the war on drugs,” said Michael Collins, Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “To see Republicans and Democrats join hands to pass this bill gives me great hope we’ll have legislation on the President’s desk very soon.”

The vote comes the day after an esteemed group of 130 law enforcement leaders called on Congress to reduce incarceration. The group will meet with President Obama today at the White House. The President also began a criminal justice tour yesterday, visiting West Virginia and highlighting alternatives to arrest and incarceration.

Public support for criminal justice reform is also at an all-time high. Last week, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) conducted a poll that showed that 77% of Americans support repealing mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses.

“Mandatory minimums and draconian sentences have had a devastating impact on families and communities,” said Anthony Papa, Manager of Media Relations at the Drug Policy Alliance, who served 12 years on a first-time, nonviolent drug charge. “Congress can’t undo the damage of the past, but they can reform these laws to allow people to come home and minimize future injustices.”

The bill now moves to the Senate floor. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House, and should move forward soon.

DPA Fact Sheet: The Drug War, Mass Incarceration, and Race

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

  • Closet Warrior

    I’m a proud West Virginian and Obama collaborateded with the local democrats and republicans alongside police, judges and compassionate well educated social workers who deal with our terrible heroin and prescription drug problems. This state is so poor that we have to pay for sunshine but if we keep on locking up addicts and the hopeless instead of educating them- we will pay a far heavier wage- human lives! Help us help ourselves and let’s finally get big pharma out and mmj at least to combat addiction, pain, anxiety, arthritis, help w/chemo and for the rest- boredom. We need a voice. We have voted out mmj for 5 yrs. straight. Something’s gotta give. Come Save us Berny!!! Sanders/Bluemenaur for President and VICE president!!! Feel the Bluemen Bern.

  • NickyChuck

    It would have been kind of sad if Sen. Grassley’s bill didn’t pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs. The real test will be the House, which in case you haven’t been following the news lately, is mostly a group of pants-sh*tting babies who can’t even find someone willing to lead them, let alone pass any meaningful legislation.

    • BarleySinger

      What is with these names of politicians in the USA. Boehner (who showed his boner in a mass email) and Grassley for drug reform. You can’t make this stuff up.

      • NickyChuck

        Missouri, where I live, has more than any of ’em I think. One of our Senators is Roy Blunt (R), though sadly he is very much against any drug reform. Our governor, literally Jay Nixon (D), isn’t too much better.

        Also, it was Anthony Weiner you’re thinking of, I think, who tweeted his wiener, not Boehner? That guy was just an orange dick.

  • HellNo

    This is a good start, but even without these mandatory minimum sentences, penalties for drug crimes are way too severe. Judges give out hard- time like 10 years is a slap on the wrist. And those same mean ol’ bastards are still gonna be sitting on their benches, enforcing the same rediculous laws. Possession of ANY drug should NEVER be a felony.

    • NickyChuck

      Yeah, this bill really just lets the GOOD judges (of which there are many, IMO) be more lenient, but the jerks will still be able to lock ’em up and throw away the key. It’s at least a move in the right direction, so hopefully this will pass and build momentum for more fundamental criminal justice reforms.

  • Scott Eaton

    So they admit it was a failure

  • Ham’Diya Lane

    Tragic all those who suffered behind the war on drugs.. But, this is a good start, ( not the best).