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The House Member Who Stopped All Mandatory Minimum Penalties from 2007 to 2010

The House Member Who Stopped All Mandatory Minimum Penalties from 2007 to 2010

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President Obama signs Fair Sentencing Act in 2010.

The House member who blocked all bills with mandatory minimum penalties from coming out of committee from 2007 to 2010. As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Crime, Rep. Bobby Scott stopped all legislation that added mandatory minimum penalties coming out of the Judiciary Committee from January 2007 to December 2010.

Scott was also the House author of the Fair Sentencing Act which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010.  The House flipped to GOP control in January 2011.  Hopefully Democrats can win back the House in 2014 so Scott can block mandatory minimum legislation again. The only one that snuck through into law from 2007 to 2010, while he served as Chair of Crime, was attached to a Defense Bill moved by the Armed Services Committee.

Over the last 40 years, politicians have loved voting for mandatory minimums (see three strikes you’re out) because they can brag they are “tough on crime.”  But currently there is growing political momentum to end mandatory minimums.  The U.S. continues to lead the world in the rate of incarceration at a cost of over $60 billion per year.  Both Democrats and Republicans are leading the charge to end expensive policy that clearly is not working.

Scott talked with Rev. Al Sharpton on Politics Nation (12.19.12) on mandatory minimums this week after President Obama pardoned 8 people who were in jail for non violent offenses but the judge was forced to impose a mandatory sentence.

Scott is currently the author of H.R.3382, The Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013, read here which would, “provide for retroactive application of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced excessive penalties for federal crack cocaine offenses” as explained by the organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Rep. Scott is also the sponsor of H.R.2372, Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2013, read here which would “eliminate increased and mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine drug offenses.”

Rep. Scott is also the author of H.R. 1695, The Justice Safety Valve Act, read here which would allow judges to use common sense discretion in sentencing decisions.

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