Amid deadlock in Congress, sentencing reform is the only issue that has cut across partisan bickering to “normally irreconcilable voices” like Rand Paul, Dick Durbin, Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren, Paul Ryan and John Conyers, says Rolling Stone. Yet the proposed Smarter Sentencing Act, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, has run aground. The bill would halve many mandatory minimums, make relief under the Fair Sentencing Act available to 8,800 federal crack defendants locked up before 2010 and save $4 billion.
More than 260,000 people have been imprisoned under federal drug mandatory minimums, and more will continue to cycle through the system as others are granted clemency. At the state level, reforms that are not retroactive strand drug defendants in prison even after the laws that put them there are reassessed as unjust. Rolling Stone gives details of seven cases the publication says “epitomize the rigid regimes of the past, and the challenges involved in dismantling them.”