Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates will testify first at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s initial hearing today on a proposed revision of federal sentencing laws, said Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA). At a conference in July, Yates discussed former Attorney General Eric Holder’s policy change that federal prosecutors stop seeking mandatory minimum terms for lower level, non-violent drug offenders. Yates said DOJ’s use of mandatory minimums decreased by 20 percent. “Although some feared that defendants would stop pleading guilty and stop cooperating, our experience has been just the opposite,” she said. One of the bill’s principal features is to reduce the use of mandatory minimums in drug cases.
The committee then will hear from a panel including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Hilary Shelton, Washington director of the NAACP; Former Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, Steven Cook, a federal prosecutor in Knoxville, Tn., and president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, and Craig DeRoche of the Justice Fellowship. The committee has scheduled its first discussion of the bill on Thursday. The schedule is expedited, considering that the measure was introduced just this month.