Beginning in the 1980’s, Congress passed a series of “tough on crime” mandatory minimum sentences. While increased periods of incarceration contributed to reduced crime rates, the pendulum has swung too far. Mandatory minimum sentences designed for “kingpins” are often meted out to low level drug offenders, who occupy a significant percentage of the federal prison population. The Smarter Sentencing Act would, among other things, reduce the level of minimum sentences for some drug offenders without eliminating them, enabling judges to impose harsher sentences when warranted and freeing up prison space for offenders who pose a greater risk to public safety.

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