Law Enforcement Unhappy with Sentencing Reform Act Revisions
After conservatives expressed fears that the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) would release violent felons, top republicans have incorporated new edits into the bill. These changes, however, only appear to anger more constituents, including law enforcement officers.
The SRCA was introduced to change minimum sentencing rules and retroactively reduce sentences for current felons.
Some are calling these revisions a “Willie Horton” fix. Horton was the felon who was furloughed in Massachusetts in 1986, and later raped a woman in Maryland and killed her fiance. The event became part of the 1988 presidential campaign, and part of the Republican argument against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, according to the Washington Examiner.
"It's a good middle-ground that people should be more comfortable with," a GOP Senate aide told the Washington Examiner of the proposed fix to the bill.
In a Monday letter to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, and Utah Sen. Mike Lee–the leaders of the bill–The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the Law Enforcement Action Network (LEAN), and the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC) expressed their objections to the revisions.
“For the law enforcement community, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA), as revised, will make it even more difficult for investigators and prosecutors to pursue the most culpable drug dealers and secure their cooperation to pursue others in drug distribution rings and networks, domestic and international,” the letter read.
The letter went on to state: “The bill will over-expand judicial discretion to apply the leniency of the ‘safety valve’ to major drug traffickers, including those with multiple prior criminal convictions. Under current law, the safety valve permits minor participants in drug trafficking crimes with minor criminal records to reduce their sentencing exposure to avoid mandatory minimum sentences, even if they choose not to cooperate.”
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