Committee Reports

Report in support of the Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act of 2015 and the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015


The Federal Courts Committee wrote a letter to Senators Grassley and Leahy and Representatives Goodlatte and Conyers in support of the Sentencing Reform Act bills currently before Congress (S. 2123; H.R. 3713). The letter commended the congressional leaders leading the bipartisan effort for criminal justice reform, and underscored the City Bar’s commitment (most recently through the formation of our Mass Incarceration Task Force) to the goal of reducing mass incarceration. If enacted, the Sentencing Reform Act would make significant progress toward that goal by (i) reducing mandatory minimum sentence enhancements for drug offenders with prior felony convictions; (ii) focusing the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug offenses on those who have higher-level roles or pose a greater risk to public safety, and reducing mandatory minimum sentences for low-level non-violent offenders; (iii) expanding the applicability of the “safety valve” provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f); (iv) permitting federal prisoners to seek relief retroactively under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010; (v) mandating recidivism-reduction programs and authorizing pre-release custody for lower-risk prisoners who complete those programs; and (vi) providing for the sealing and expungement of juvenile delinquency records. The Committee expressed support for these provisions, with some exceptions and reservations, recommending that: (1) Section 103 be amended to apply retroactively to permit prisoners who were sentenced to a 10-year mandatory term but would now be eligible for a 5-year sentence to seek relief; (2) Sections 107 and 108 of the Senate bill, imposing new mandatory minimum sentences, be deleted; (3) portions of Section 2 of the House bill mandating a 5-year minimum enhancement for offenses involving fentanyl or fentanyl-mixed heroin be deleted; and (4) Section 211 of the Senate bill be amended to expand sealing and expungement relief.