If you are facing time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or are in prison now, there is good news.
U.S. Senate leaders have introduced the most significant Federal Sentencing and Federal Prison reform legislation in decades. 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans have introduced “The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.” A key part of the legislation is that when it is passed by Congress and signed by the President it will be retroactive. That means it will help not only people currently facing Federal criminal charges and federal sentencing but will apply to persons already in prison.
The key parts of the legislation include:
- Reduce the mandatory life without parole sentence for a third drug or violent felony offense to a mandatory minimum term of 25 years in prison (retroactive)
- Reduce the mandatory minimum 20-year sentence for a second drug or violent felony offense to a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison (retroactive)
- Clarify which prior offenses can trigger longer mandatory minimum drug sentences
- Make the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) of 2010 retroactive, allowing roughly 6,500 crack cocaine offenders sentenced before August 3, 2010, to seek sentences in line with that law’s reforms to the 100-to-one disparity between crack and powder cocaine mandatory minimum sentences
- More nonviolent, low-level drug offenders with non-serious criminal histories can receive sentences below the mandatory minimum term (not retroactive)
- Reduce the 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for certain gun possession offenses by people with criminal records to a mandatory minimum term of 10 years (retroactive)
- Reduce the 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for those who commit repeat offenses of possessing guns in the course of drug trafficking offenses to a mandatory minimum term of 15 years (retroactive)
- Allow some categories of federal prisoners to earn time credits for completing rehabilitative programs and “cash in” those time credits at the end of their sentences for a transfer to a different type of supervision, such as a halfway house
- Create new mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years for interstate domestic violence resulting in a death and five years for providing certain weapons or aid to terrorists.
The next steps are hearings and a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation will then go to the full Senate and to the House of Representatives for Committee hearings and votes. Only then will the “The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” go the desk of President Obama and signed into law.
Contact Federal Prison Consultants to see how this legislation may impact you.