Kaine Cosponsors Bipartisan Sentencing Reform Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Tim Kaine has joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to cosponsor the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act—bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to narrow the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, target violent and career criminals and save taxpayer dollars.  The legislation permits more judicial discretion at sentencing for offenders with minimal criminal histories and helps inmates successfully reenter society, while tightening penalties for violent criminals and preserving key prosecutorial tools for law enforcement.

“Our country has found its way into a position where we are over-incarcerating our young men and women without taking a look at every single individual case, exploding our U.S. prison population, and undermining faith in our criminal justice system,” Kaine said. “We have to find a way to balance protecting our communities while ensuring mandatory minimums don’t unfairly punish non-violent drug offenders who could be offered successful reentry opportunities. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the product of years of bipartisan work to evaluate our criminal justice system and not only gives judges greater authority to sentence on a case-by-case basis, but initiates smart policies that will save taxpayer dollars.”

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act:

  • Reduces the enhanced penalties for certain non-violent repeat drug offenders and eliminates the three-strike mandatory life provision;
  • Increases judicial discretion when sentencing certain non-violent offenders, allowing them to sentence below a mandatory minimum when deemed appropriate and safe for the community;
  • Retroactively applies provisions in the bill, allowing certain non-violent offenders to petition courts for review of sentences to address inequities in drug sentences;
  • Reforms enhanced mandatory minimums and sentences for firearm offenses;
  • Creates a mandatory minimum for interstate domestic violence violations;
  • Creates a new mandatory enhancement for trafficking of fentanyl-laced heroin;
  • Creates a new mandatory minimum for providing weapons and other defense materials to prohibited countries and terrorists;
  • Establishes a recidivism reduction program to facilitate successful reentry of federal inmates, which includes work and education programs, allowing for graduates of the program to earn early release.

In addition to Kaine, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is cosponsored by 27 senators, Republicans and Democrats, and has earned the support of numerous organizations from across the political spectrum, including advocacy and law enforcement groups.

Kaine has been a strong supporter of criminal justice reform legislation, cosponsoring a similar version of this bill in 2015. Kaine previously urged then President Obama to expand job opportunities to help reduce recidivism and has called on federal agencies to “ban the box” on job applications. “Ban the Box” refers to the section on job application forms that inquires as to whether the applicant has ever had a criminal history. 

View full text of the legislation, here.

View a one-page summary, here.

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