FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 17, 2010
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate today approved by unanimous consent a bill that would reduce the sentencing disparity between federal crack and powder cocaine offenses. The bill, S. 1789, was sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).
Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), released the following statement upon the bill’s passage:
“Today’s approval marks the first time since the Nixon administration that the Senate has voted to repeal a mandatory minimum. The unanimous vote demonstrates the ability of Congress to work across party lines to achieve sentencing reform. We commend the good efforts of Senators Durbin, Leahy, Graham, Hatch, and Sessions, and their willingness to find common ground.
While we wish the Senate had voted to eliminate, rather than reduce the disparity, we believe there is too much as stake to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. People who will be sentenced under this law will return home to their families two or three years earlier – a benefit that simply cannot be quantified.”
The Senate proposal could affect nearly 3,000 cases annually, reducing sentences by an average of about 27 months. The bill would not, however, reduce sentences for those currently incarcerated for crack offenses.
Under the Senate approved bill, 28 grams of crack cocaine will trigger a five year prison sentence and 280 grams of crack will trigger a 10-year sentence. Significantly, the bill also would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack. The legislation would also direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to enhance penalties for aggravating factors like violence or bribery of a law enforcement officer. The impact of those provisions has not yet been calculated.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supporting fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety. For more information on FAMM, visit www.famm.org or contact Monica Pratt Raffanel at (202) 621-5044 or firstname.lastname@example.org