Legal Talk


May 20, 2013 by Anna M. Clausen in Legal Talk

On April 24, 2013, U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, H.R. 1695, in the U.S. House of Repre-sentatives. In March, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced an identical version of the Justice Safety Valve Act, S. 619, in the U.S. Senate. NEITHER BILL IS A LAW. NEITHER BILL IS RETROACTIVE. We do not know if or when either bill will become law. Watch for updates at

But the bills are still very exciting news because now, for the first time since the crack cocaine reforms of 2010, there is a sentencing reform bill with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress! The Justice Safety Valve Act would create a brand-new, broad “safety valve” that would apply to all federal crimes carrying mandatory minimum sentences.

If it becomes law, it would allow judges to sentence people below the mandatory minimum sentence whenever that minimum term does not fulfill the goals of punishment. In a nutshell, the bill would give judges flexibility to end the injustices produced by mandatory minimum sentences! We are asking you and your loved ones to support H.R. 1695 and S. 619 because no one else should have to get a one-size-fits-all sentence like the ones so many of you received. No future generations of parents should spend a single day longer than necessary away from their children. Injustice must end here. Your loved ones can write to their U.S. Representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor H.R. 1695 by visiting and clicking on “Action Center.” Please ask your loved ones to do this. We need all the help we can get! Thank you for supporting FAMM!


The only bill in Congress that would increase good time credit is H.R. 62, the Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2013, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) in January 2013. The bill now has two cosponsors, Reps. Madelleine Bordallo (Guam) and Charles Rangel (D-NY). If passed, H.R. 62 would allow certain nonviolent offenders over the age of 45 to be released from prison early. The bill is not a law.

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