Virginia Congressman Calls For Relaxed Mandatory Minimums | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Virginia Congressman Calls For Relaxed Mandatory Minimums

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Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) is calling on Congress to follow the Obama Administration's lead and relax mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Many judges complain that their hands are tied by a law Congress passed that requires them to throw first time offenders in jail for possession of drugs that are non-legal or decriminalized across the country. The Justice Department is now going to reexamine thousands of those cases looking for more opportunities to offer clemency.

Congressman Scott says it's good the Justice Department is acting on its own, but he says Congress needs to rewrite its own law.

"The judge has no discretion but to impose the mandatory minimum, even if it violates common sense," Scott says. "And you know that's a problem when people of low level, non-violent offenders are serving more than 10 years."

There's a broad coalition in Congress calling for prison reforms, but it's a touchy political issue in an election year because many lawmakers fear looking 'soft' on crime.

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