Two sentators, Leahy of Vermont, and Rand of Kentucky, have introduced far-reaching legislation, “The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013”. The bill, if passed, gives federal judges greater latitude in making sentencing decisions. Ultimately, this could be the beginning of the end of “Federal Mandatory Minimums”.
What is so extraordinary about this effort is not that Democratic Senator Leahy has introduced the bill, or that it is bipartisan effort, but who the republican co-sponsor of the bill is. Rand Paul has been making a name for himself, taking libertarian stands on everything from filibustering the use of drones within the U.S., to adocating for non-custodial sentences for marijuana users . His championing of flexibility for federal judges’ sentencing, should be a clear sign to the right that this is a safe position to take in the battle over prison reform.
Paul is quoted as saying “Our country’s mandatory minimum laws reflect a Washington-knows-best, one-size-fits-all approach, which undermines the Constitutional Separation of Powers, violates the our bedrock principle that people should be treated as individuals, and costs the taxpayers money without making them any safer. This bill is necessary to combat the explosion of new federal criminal laws, many of which carry new mandatory minimum penalties.”
I could not have said it any better. Alllies sometimes come from the strangest places. I am going to write him a letter, thanking him for taking his position on federal manatory minimums. This might be a good use of your time as well. I’ll release mine, when the next edition of RCS is published, next Monday,