Law & the Courts

Trump to Back Major Sentencing-Reform Bill

President Trump in the Oval Office, August 27, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

President Trump plans to support a major rewrite of federal sentencing law, the Associated Press reported Wednesday morning.

Trump is expected to announce his support for the legislation, which was finalized this week, during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The bill, which Trump hopes to pass during the lame-duck session of Congress, would give judges more autonomy in sentencing non-violent offenders, especially those convicted of drug offenses, and provide greater resources for prisoner rehabilitation.

The First Step Act, which has already passed the house, was spearheaded by White House adviser Jared Kushner. It expands the so-called “drug safety valve,” exempting non-violent drug offenders from receiving mandatory minimum sentences. It also eliminates “stacking” provisions, which mandate multiple consecutive sentences for offenses committed with firearms.

The legislation initially faced pushback from law-enforcement groups but was amended in the last two weeks to maintain mandatory minimum sentences for certain fentanyl-related offenses in order to appease the groups.

“This legislation is a bipartisan effort to address front-end sentencing reform and back-end prison reform, and our association is appreciative of your efforts to partner with the Nation’s prosecutors on this important matter,” National District Attorneys Association president Jonathan Blodgett wrote in a letter to President Trump obtained by CNN.

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