Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 30, 2015. Today, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) announced her cosponsorship of several pieces of legislation that will take significant steps towards reforming the criminal justice system. Duckworth is an advocate for reforming mandatory minimums in drug sentencing and increasing access to treatment. She discussed these issues in an Oversight and Government Reform hearingearlier this month.
One piece of legislation, the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, allows courts to make individualized assessments in nonviolent drug cases and focuses resources on the most serious offenders. The bill cuts in half mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent drug crimes and gives judges more discretion to sentence below the mandatory minimum.
Duckworth also cosponsored the Over-Criminalization Task Force Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective Justice Reinvestment Act of 2015. This legislation takes many important steps to improve the Federal sentencing and corrections system. The bill reforms the Federal supervision system to ensure that probation policies prevent offenders from repeating their crimes and returning to prison. Finally, Duckworth is a cosponsor of theRecidivism Risk Reduction Act. The legislation allows inmates an opportunity to be moved to halfway houses or home confinement if they make progress in recidivism reduction programs.
“Mandatory minimums for drug sentences and lack of adequate representation for defendants often put an unfair burden on disadvantaged communities,” said Duckworth. “Too often victims of minor drug offenses are subject to unreasonable penalties that ruin lives and communities. In many cases these offenders are unfairly sentenced and placed in a system that encourages a revolving door at Federal prisons. These bipartisan pieces of legislation provide common sense steps that can make our criminal justice system more fair, more effective and much less wasteful.”
Duckworth also helped introduce the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which would expand community-based prevention and treatment efforts to combat addiction to opioids and heroin. It also encourages alternatives to prison for drug offenders, like Veterans Treatment Courts.