WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s commutation of eight Americans sentenced for non-violent crimes involving crack cocaine was commendable and demonstrated the need for Congress to pass the Smarter Sentencing act to address disproportionate sentences in the country’s criminal justice system.
The president’s commutation of the sentences ranged from 15 years to six sentences of life imprisonment.
“This action should spur action in Congress to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act,” said Justice Fellowship president Craig DeRoche. “This bipartisan legislation is a critical reform of our criminal justice system that addresses widespread discrepancies in the way we sentence past and present drug offenses.”
While the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced decades-long sentencing disparities, it did not address those already behind bars.
The Smarter Sentencing Act, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Reps. Raul Labrador, R-Id., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., allows for those serving disproportionately long sentences for certain drug offenses to petition a federal judge for sentencing reduction.