The two senators said their legislation is needed to reduce federal spending and because mandatory minimum drug sentences have caused an unsustainable spike in incarceration rates. Over the past 30 years, the number of inmates in federal prisons has increased by 500 percent. The bill doesn't repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions but allows judges to determine a sentence based on an individual's circumstances.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a bill by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) would save the federal government $4.36 billion in prison costs by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, The Hill reports. The CBO report “proves that, not only are mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses often unfair, they are also fiscally irresponsible,” Durbin said.