NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—November 6, 2015. Adding to her call this spring to “end the era of mass incarceration,” today Hillary Clinton outlined specific reforms to tackle mandatory minimum sentences, which disproportionately hurt African Americans and other minority communities. These proposals build on her criminal justice reform agenda, which also includes measures to eliminate the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine, executive action to “ban the box,” and ending racial profiling by law enforcement.
In this campaign, Clinton has said we must recognize some hard truths about race and justice in America in order to reform our criminal justice system, and that will require real reforms that can be felt in our communities.
“African American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men convicted of the same offenses,” Clinton said last Friday at a rally in Atlanta. “If you see the toll on families, if you see the unfairness, then you’ve got to come together, you’ve got to consider working for reform for the criminal justice system.”
Her suite of proposals to reform mandatory minimum sentences includes cutting in half the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses that now carry minimum penalties of 5-20 years and applying these changes – as well as the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 – retroactively. In addition, she would reform the “strike” system to exclude nonviolent drug offenses – reducing and making retroactive the mandatory penalty for second- and third-strike offenses. Clinton would also fight to grant discretion for judges to charge below a mandatory minimum for some nonviolent offenses by expanding the “safety valve,” a limited provision under current law.
Clinton’s proposed reforms to mandatory minimums come after another proposal this morning to strengthen law enforcement through new support for officer training and beefing up the Department of Justice’s pattern or practice unit. She would strengthen this unit’s enforcement capacity by increasing resources, working to secure subpoena power, and improving data collection for pattern or practice investigations.