Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry
314-499-1424

Capitol Hill voices calling for criminal sentencing changes

Some changes, yes, but not quick enough or significantly sufficient to satisfy a broad swath of critics in Missouri and across the United States.

That about sums it up for individuals and groups who ardently oppose what they claim have been widespread injustices that have occurred over many years owing to harsh federal sentencing guidelines and judicial mandates.

We concede on our criminal defense website at the proven St. Louis law firm of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry that reform demands in recent years have produced some positive changes in sentencing outcomes. However, we also note that, notwithstanding the upsides for some, "individuals in Missouri who face charges related to the possession ,,,, of illegal and prescription drugs still face harsh penalties."

It is precisely the draconian and often seemingly misplaced outcomes that often attach to nonviolent offenders in arguably minor drug matters that have reformers churning for material changes in the federal sentencing scheme.

That churning has been both obvious and notable on Capitol Hill, with a batch of new U.S. Senate bills being introduced within the past few days that make a strong push for big adjustments in things like mandatory minimum incarceration terms, automatic life sentences and other matters.

Central to the reform movement is a broad consensus that federal judges' hands are unfairly tied in many drug-related cases, with courts being forced to mete out unduly harsh prison terms to defendants they are personally inclined to treat more leniently.

A key point in much of the new legislation is that a softening of mandatory minimums and other harsh edges existing in current federal laws is needed to reduce swollen prison populations, extend systemic fairness to all defendants and reduce spiraling criminal justice costs.

Although there is still much to debate, draft and ultimately agreed on at the national governing level, it seems clear that bipartisanship is apparent and that there is a true clarion call for meaningful change.

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