House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) is not convinced that Congress should scale back mandatory minimum drug sentences, which the Obama administration and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate favors, reports Roll Call. Goodlatte, speaking on C-SPAN, signalled his willingness to consider sentencing changes, but added, “We shouldn't jump to conclusions about what is right and what is wrong with the law yet.”
Goodlatte was skeptical that federal prisoners are facing dramatically long sentences for relatively minor drug crimes, a claim made by supporters of an overhaul. “If you're talking about 25- or 30-year sentences, you're talking about something that the judge and the jury found appropriate to do above mandatory minimum sentences, because those are five-year and 10-year sentences,” he said. Regarding mandatory minimum sentences themselves, he said, “you'll find that the quantities of drugs that have to be involved are very, very large.” On marijuana possession, it takes “hundreds” of pounds of the drug to trigger a five-year mandatory minimum penalty and “thousands” of pounds to trigger a 10-year mandatory minimum penalty, he said.