Congress, Supreme Court Considering Reforms

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From: The Sentencing Project

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act Introduced in Congress: A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate that could be the most substantial criminal justice reform since the beginning of the “tough on crime” movement. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 takes a number of steps forward to reverse harsh penalties that have come at a ruinous cost to families and taxpayers while producing diminishing returns for public safety. Among the most salutary provisions of the legislation are measures to retroactively apply the crack cocaine sentencing reductions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to individuals in federal prison and to expand use of the “safety valve” provision that permits judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum in many drug cases. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the House, co-sponsored by Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking Democrat John Conyers (D-MI). You can ask your members of Congress to support the bill through this page.

Supreme Court to Determine Retroactivity of JLWOP Ruling: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in its third case in the past five years on the constitutionality of life sentences when applied to juveniles. Montgomery v. Louisiana seeks clarification on the retroactivity of the Court’s finding in Miller v. Alabama (2012), which determined that automatic life-without-parole sentences violate the 8th Amendment when they are imposed on individuals under 18 at the time of their offense. The Sentencing Project joined an amicus brief in support of the petitioner, along with dozens of justice and child-serving advocacy organizations, arguing that Miller v. Alabama represents a transformation in law, practice and jurisprudence which corrects for the now-discredited presumption that certain children cannot be reformed.
We’ll keep you posted on developments in all these areas in the coming months.

Regards,
Marc Mauer

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