Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Legislation in the 113th Congress [February 7, 2014]   [open pdf - 329KB]

"Defendants convicted of violating certain federal criminal laws face the prospect of mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. Bills offered during the 113th Congress would supplement, enhance, or eliminate some of these. In the most all-encompassing, H.R. 1695 (Representative Scott (VA)) and S. 619 (Senator Paul) would permit federal courts to impose a sentence below an otherwise applicable mandatory minimum when necessary to avoid violating certain statutory directives. Federal drug statutes feature a series of mandatory minimums. S. 1410 (Senator Durbin)/H.R. 3382 (Representative Labrador) and S. 1410 (Judiciary), as voted by the Judiciary Committee, would reduce several of the most severe of these. H.R. 3088 (Representative Waters) would eliminate virtually all of them. The Durbin bill would also enlarge the safety valve exception. The safety valve provision allows a federal court to sentence qualified defendants below the statutory mandatory minimum in drug cases, if the defendant has a virtually spotless criminal record, that is, not more than one criminal history point. S. 1410 would expand safety valve eligibility to defendants with a slightly more extensive criminal record. Elsewhere, H.R. 2372 (Representative Scott (VA)) would drop the sentencing distinction between powder and crack cocaine by striking the cocaine base specific references. Two proposals address the Fair Sentencing Act's retroactive application. One, H.R. 2369 (Representative Scott (VA)) would permit a court to reduce, consistent with the act, a previously imposed sentence for crack cocaine possession or trafficking. The second, S. 1410 (Senator Durbin), would also permit a court to reduce such sentences, but would limit the authority to instances in which the defendant had not been previously granted or denied a similar reduction."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43296
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