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Bipartisan group of lawmakers introduce bill to lessen sentences for drug offenses

[JURIST] A bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill [text] on Wednesday that aims to reduce prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

The bill, sponsored by 10 senators from both sides of the aisle, seeks to reduce rather than to fully eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug crimes while simultaneously giving federal judges more discretion to deviate from the sentencing guidelines when they see fit. Thus the bill will reduce charges for crimes such as drug possession and the sale of narcotics.

This bill comes after a similar bill [JURIST report] was introduced in 2015. Although the bill was heavily backed by the Obama administration, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell [official profile] never brought the floor to debate and, as a result, failed to pass into law in 2016.

It is unclear if the bill will gain support [Reuters report] from the Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions [official websites], who earlier this year ordered more aggressive sentencing [JURIST report] and reversed the Obama Administration's more lenient stance on non-violent drug offenses. Sessions also opposed last year's attempt at reform while still a senator.

Combating drug use is an issue US President Donald Trump has emphasized in recent months. In March he signed an executive order [materials] that established a task force [JURIST report] charged with reducing drug addiction in the nation. This order comes as the national opioid epidemic sweeps throughout America, leaving more people than ever addicted to the substance. Trump in February signed [JURIST report] an executive order that was aimed at targeting drug cartels in an attempt to reduce crimes against law enforcement.

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