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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

The Hill: Labrador-Scott Bill would overhaul drug crime sentencing laws

February 19, 2015
In The News

Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) have introduced legislation that would allow courts to sentence drug crime offenders on a case-by-case basis.

Labrador said the proposal would help reduce the number of people sent to jail for drug offenses, thereby reducing the cost of maintaining the prison population. Nearly half of the U.S. prison population consists of people convicted of drug crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

"The 'one-size-fits-all' approach Congress put on the books has tied the hands of judges without improving public safety," Labrador said in a statement.

Scott, the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, argued the current policy of mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes is ineffective.

"Studies of mandatory minimums conclude that they fail to reduce crime, they waste the taxpayers' money, they discriminate against minorities, and they often require the imposition of sentences that violate common sense," Scott said.

The legislation would also allow prison inmates to petition for new sentences.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

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