Posted 8 months ago on March 25, 2013, 9:12 a.m. EST by GirlFriday
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It's a rare day in Washington when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) agree on anything. So when I heard earlier this week that Paul and Leahy introduced a bill together that gives judges more discretion on mandatory minimum sentences, I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1.
Even in today's hyper-partisan era, it seems there's at least one thing people on both sides of the aisle can agree on: our country's one-size-fits-all sentencing practices just don't make sense.
The bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 applies to all federal offenders and allows judges to take individual circumstances into account when handing out sentences under certain circumstances. Overly long mandatory minimums sentences are one of the primary reasons the federal prison population has grown by nearly 800% in the last several decades. They create racial disparity and generate unnecessarily harsh sentences by preventing judges from considering individual circumstances.
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