Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

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Drug sentencing reform gaining traction, Part 2

To borrow from a well-known phrase, "the winds of change" are blowing in Washington, D.C., and in a manner entirely unrelated to winter's passing.

Rather, what is blowing is a figurative tailwind of significant proportions that is -- and this probably seems flatly amazing to many of our readers -- pushing many Republican and Democratic legislators closer together in a spirit of compromise and shared purpose.

What is driving this seeming amicability is a common belief that America's drug sentencing policies contain material flaws and need substantial reforming. We noted the newly emerging reform bent in our earlier post this week, and note a few salient points regarding it today.

One is this: Voices on both the left and right are stressing that some of the harshness inherent in the country's longstanding sentencing policies needs to be alleviated.

A case in point is the mandatory minimum sentencing that has put many first-time and nonviolent drug offenders behind bars for decades. Many critics of that policy argue that sentencing alternatives to lengthy lockups need to be more uniformly emphasized and that remedial action needs to be taken regarding many inmates already sentenced.

That was a core focus of a recent meeting of legislators at a White House meeting convened by President Obama. The president has voiced agreement with a Republican-sponsored bill that seeks to significantly cut mandatory minimum terms for some drug inmates.

That would-be legislation also discusses drug trafficking, which is an area where a criminal defendant's role can often be murky and where many people have received excessively lengthy prison terms for transporting or storing drugs rather than being involved in higher-echelon drug activities.

That reality underscores that, although momentum seems to be unquestionably growing for sentencing reform measures, many drug defendants continue to have a compelling need for aggressive and proven criminal defense representation.

We will be sure to provide timely updates to our readers regarding important developments that surface with drug sentencing reform.

Source: USA TODAY, "Bipartisan sentencing bill gets White House support," Gregory Korte, Feb. 25, 2015

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