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Click here to read stories of victims affected by mandatory minimum sentences.

The Supreme Court rules, Congress responds

On January 12, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to force federal judges to increase sentences based on facts not presented to and found by a jury. Prior to this ruling, federal judges regularly increased sentences in this manner under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In a companion opinion issued the same day, the Supreme Court declared that the sentencing ranges contained in the Sentencing Guidelines, which judges were previously required to follow, should be treated just as advisory. These two rulings do not, however, affect mandatory minimums enacted by Congress.

As a result of these rulings, on April 6, 2005, U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner introduced the “Defending America‚Äôs Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005.” As Professor Frank Bowman wrote in a letter to Congress, the bill “transforms the Federal Sentencing Guidelines into a complex system of mandatory minimum sentences.”

To view a copy of the bill text, please click here. To see an analysis of the section of the bill that responds to the Supreme Court rulings, please click here.

Tell your members of Congress to oppose mandatory minimums today by clicking here.

“In too many cases, mandatory minimum sentences are unwise and unjust.”
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
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If you agree…

Write Congress to tell them that mandatory minimums are unjust.