House Judiciary Leaders Introduce New Bipartisan Federal Sentencing Reforms

The House Judiciary Committee recently introduced the bipartisan Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, which would help restore proportionate punishment in the criminal justice system.

Craig DeRoche, executive director of Prison Fellowship’s criminal justice and advocacy arm, Justice Fellowship, applauded the move.

This is the type of leadership our nation needs in Congress—leadership that sets aside partisanship and relies on shared values to propose criminal justice solutions that will restore victims, the people who commit crimes and the communities affected by crime,” he said.

The legislation would broaden the existing exceptions to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, giving judges more flexibility when sentencing defendants with low-level drug offenses. The bill would also reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses, including reducing the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years. Simultaneously, this legislation would apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively to those who never received a reduction in their sentence.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) have led the effort in the House Judiciary Committee to restore more proportionate federal sentencing, joined by a diverse, bipartisan group of colleagues, including Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).

In 2013, Goodlatte formed a bipartisan Over-Criminalization Task Force to review the criminal justice system and the overwhelming number of federal criminal laws and regulations to determine how best to improve the system. The Sentencing Reform Act is the first of many bills to be introduced by the chairman and ranking member that address the criminal justice issues studied by the task force.

We applaud the House Judiciary Committee’s introduction of the Sentencing Reform Act and look forward to additional bills from the House that reflect restorative justice values,” he said.

In 1983, the late Chuck Colson founded Justice Fellowship less than a decade after founding Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. Justice Fellowship’s mission is to advocate for public policy in the justice system according to biblical restorative justice principles so that communities are safer, victims are respected and those who have committed crimes are transformed. Colson and Justice Fellowship have played a leading role in working with members of Congress to pass groundbreaking justice reforms, including:

  • Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
  • Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act
  • Prison Rape Elimination Act
  • Fair Sentencing Act
  • Second Chance Act