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Virginia Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Reform Prison Sentencing

A Virginia lawmaker is trying to tackle the problem of overcrowding in prisons.
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A Virginia lawmaker is trying to tackle the problem of overcrowding in prisons.

Virginia Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott introduced legislation to reform prison sentencing. In the past three decades, the number of federal prisoners has shot up 500 percent. About half of those inmates are locked up for drug charges. Congress mandates a minimum sentence that judges are obligated to follow, which Scott would like to change. He argues judges need more flexibility, which he says could save around $1 billion dollars.

"I think there's growing support to eliminate the mandatory minimums and allow judges to impose sentences that make sense, not those that are so absurd under the circumstances that they violate common sense," he says.

The legislation is cosponsored by Republican Raul Labrador of Idaho. A bipartisan group of senators are also trying to tackle sentencing reform in the upper chamber, but no votes have been scheduled on either proposal.

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