Thursday, October 8, 2015

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers’ Remarks at Press Conference Announcing the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015

Washington, D.C.  – As part of the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.) today announced bipartisan legislation to reform federal sentencing guidelines. The bill will be formally introduced later today.
 Displaying Bipartisan Press Conference Announcing the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 - Conyers.jpg
Below Ranking Member Conyers’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Sentencing reform is a critical issue impacting the lives of thousands of our citizens, and its urgency requires bipartisan cooperation. 

“That is why I am pleased to join Chairman Goodlatte, my colleague Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee and others in introducing a bill that will provide significant reforms that will allow many offenders expanded opportunities under safety valves to be sentenced below mandatory minimums, providing retroactivity for the decreased crack cocaine penalties under the Fair Sentencing Act, and reducing the mandatory minimum sentences for many recidivist provisions in the federal code.

“The bill is substantially similar to the sentencing provisions included in the recently-introduced Senate bill, which is the product of similar bipartisan efforts by Senators Chuck Grassley, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Cory Booker, Mike Lee and others. 


·         “It reduces mandatory minimum sentences for prior drug felons, including reducing the three-strikes drug penalty from life imprisonment to 25 years and reducing the 20-year mandatory minimum to 15 years.
·         “It broadens the existing safety valve to allow more offenders to be sentenced below the mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for certain drug offenses. 

·         “It creates an additional safety valve to allow relief for some offenders who would otherwise be subject to the 10-year mandatory minimum for certain drug offenses.

·         “It reforms the way prior firearms offenses are considered with respect to application of the mandatory minimum sentence for repeat firearm offenders. 

·         “It retroactively applies the reduced mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine under the Fair Sentencing Act.

“I have been working on the issue of sentencing reform for many years.  After the tragedies in Ferguson, Baltimore and around the country, the issue of criminal justice reform took on renewed urgency.

“Our legislation represents meaningful reform that will make a real difference in the lives of many, many people as well as their families and communities.

“I think we can all agree that the bill is not perfect – it does not include every provision that either I or Chairman Goodlatte or any of us wanted, but it is a good faith compromise.

“And we are not done.  This is merely the first installment of a series of criminal justice reform bills we are working on with Chairman Goodlatte. 

“These include initiatives to address police misconduct, prison reform, reentry, youth and juvenile justice, over-criminalization, and civil asset forfeiture. 

“I want to thank Chairman Goodlatte for his leadership on these issues, as well as Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Chu, Mr. Labrador and Mr. Bishop.  I also want to thank my colleagues, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner and Bobby Scott, for all of the work they have done over the years in pursuing criminal justice reforms, including their work on the Committee’s Over-Criminalization Task force last Congress. 

“I am confident that we can all work together to move legislation through Congress and get it to the President’s desk for signature.”

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