On December 9, 2013, several members of NAFUSA joined former judges, prosecutors and law enforcements officials, in signing a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Michael Lee in support for their bill to reform federal sentencing contained in the Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1410, H.R. 3382), stating:
Your bill represents an important step in promoting public safety and addressing the consequences of federal mandatory minimum sentences on the explosive growth in incarceration costs and the fairness of sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
In a related development, Charlie Savage reported on the front page of this morning’s New York Times (Obama Curbs Sentences of 8 In Crack Cases) that President Obama on Thursday, December 19, 2013, commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses.
It was the first time retroactive relief was provided to a group of inmates who would most likely have received significantly shorter terms if they had been sentenced under current drug laws, sentencing rules and charging policies. Most will be released in 120 days. The commutations opened a major new front in the administration’s efforts to curb soaring taxpayer spending on prisons and to help correct what it has portrayed as inequality in the justice system.
Savage cites Families Against Mandatory Minimums that about 8,800 federal inmates are serving time for crack offenses committed before Congress reduced prospective mandatory minimum sentences in 2010.