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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Statement on Attorney General Eric Holder's Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Reform Announcement

August 12, 2013
Press Release

(Washington DC) – Today, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee released the following statement in reaction to Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Department of Justice will avoid charging certain low-level and nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences:

“Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration should be commended for taking this bold step toward reform of draconian mandatory minimum sentences that have not kept Americans any safer, but instead have only contributed to making our criminal justice system even more bloated and inefficient.  

"These laws result in unnecessary prison sentences for low-level, nonviolent offenders who, upon their release from prison, are oftentimes locked out of the opportunity to secure jobs and otherwise reintegrate into their communities after they have paid their debt to society. This only exacerbates a vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration while weakening many communities across America, especially communities of color which have been disproportionately impacted.  

"I’m hopeful that today’s announcement will spur Congress into being a willing partner with the Administration for passing even bolder reforms, such as those called for in the bipartisan 'Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013,' which would provide judges broader flexibility in tailoring prison sentences and help to reduce the overcrowded prison population.”