Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Attorney General Holder’s Statement On Mandatory Minimums

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is the coauthor of the bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, which allows judges greater flexibility in sentencing federal crimes subject to mandatory minimums.  The bill has received endorsements from George Will, Grover Norquist, David Keene, the New York Times, and over 50 former federal prosecutors and judges.  Leahy recently announced that the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in September on mandatory minimums.]

“As a former prosecutor, I understand that criminals must be held accountable, and that long sentences are sometimes necessary to keep violent criminals off the street.  I have come to believe, however, that our reliance on mandatory minimums has been a great mistake, and I am encouraged that Attorney General Holder and the Department of Justice have joined the growing chorus from across the political spectrum that question this one-size-fits-all approach. It does not make us safer.

In March, Senator Paul and I introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, which grants federal judges greater flexibility in sentencing all crimes where a mandatory minimum punishment is considered unnecessary.  While I believe this broad approach is the better way to reform our sentencing laws, I commend the Attorney General today for his efforts to combat injustice in drug sentencing and prevent waste of taxpayer dollars.  I look forward to continuing this important conversation at a Judiciary Committee hearing next month.”

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