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H.R.1466 - Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009
To concentrate Federal resources aimed at the prosecution of drug offenses on those offenses that are major.
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Ms. WATERS (for herself, Mr. SCOTT of Virginia, Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida, Mr. MEEKS of New York, Ms. KILPATRICK of Michigan, Ms. NORTON, Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. COHEN, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. PASTOR of Arizona, Mr. STARK, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. FATTAH, and Mr. DAVIS of Illinois) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concernedCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
(1) Since the enactment of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget increased from $220 million in 1986 to $5.4 billion in 2008.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(2) Mandatory minimum sentences are statutorily prescribed terms of imprisonment that automatically attach upon conviction of certain criminal conduct, usually pertaining to drug or firearm offenses. Absent very narrow criteria for relief, a sentencing judge is powerless to mandate a term of imprisonment below the mandatory minimum. Mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses rely solely upon the weight of the substance as a proxy for the degree of involvement of a defendant’s role.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(3) Mandatory minimum sentences have consistently been shown to have a disproportionate impact on African Americans. The United States Sentencing Commission, in a 15-year overview of the Federal sentencing system, concluded that ‘mandatory penalty statutes are used inconsistently’ and disproportionately affect African American defendants. As a result, African American drug defendants are 20 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison than white drug defendants.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(4) In the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Congress structured antidrug penalties to encourage the Department of Justice to concentrate its enforcement effort against high-level and major-level drug traffickers, and provided new, long mandatory minimum sentences for such offenders, correctly recognizing the Federal role in the combined Federal-State drug enforcement effort.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(5) Between 1994 and 2003, the average time served by African Americans for a drug offense increased by 62 percent, compared with a 17 percent increase among white drug defendants. Much of this disparity is attributable to the severe penalties associated with crack cocaine.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(7) Linking drug quantity with punishment severity has had a particularly profound impact on women, who are more likely to play peripheral roles in a drug enterprise than men. However, because prosecutors can attach drug quantities to an individual regardless of the level of culpability of a defendant’s participation in the charged offense, women have been exposed to increasingly punitive sentences to incarceration.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(10) Federal drug enforcement resources are not being properly focused, as only 12.8 percent of powder cocaine prosecutions and 8.4 percent of crack cocaine prosecutions were brought against high-level traffickers, according to the Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, issued May, 2007 by the United States Sentencing Commission.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(12) The Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security are the agencies with the greatest capacity to investigate, prosecute and dismantle the highest level of drug trafficking organizations, and investigations and prosecutions of low-level offenders divert Federal personnel and resources from the prosecution of the highest-level traffickers, for which such agencies are best suited.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(13) Congress must have the most current information on the number of prosecutions of high-level and low-level drug offenders in order to properly reauthorize Federal drug enforcement programs.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(14) One consequence of the improper focus of Federal cocaine prosecutions has been that the overwhelming majority of low-level offenders subject to the heightened crack cocaine penalties are black and according to the Report to Congress only 8.8 percent of Federal crack cocaine convictions were imposed on whites, while 81.8 percent and 8.4 percent were imposed on blacks and Hispanics, respectivelyCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(15) According to the 2002 Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, issued May, 2002 by the United States Sentencing Commission, there is ‘a widely-held perception that the current penalty structure for federal cocaine offenses promotes unwarranted disparity based on race’.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(17) Drug offenders released from prison in 1986 who had been sentenced before the adoption of mandatory sentences and sentencing guidelines had served an average of 22 months in prison. Offenders sentenced in 2004, after the adoption of mandatory sentences, were expected to serve almost three times that length, or 62 months in prison.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(19) Government surveys document that drug use is fairly consistent across racial and ethnic groups. While there is less data available regarding drug sellers, research finds that drug users generally buy drugs from someone of their own racial or ethnic background. But almost three-quarters of all Federal narcotics cases are filed against blacks and Hispanics, many of whom are low-level offenders.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 3. APPROVAL OF CERTAIN PROSECUTIONS BY ATTORNEY GENERAL.
A Federal prosecution for an offense under the Controlled Substances Act, the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, or for any conspiracy to commit such an offense, where the offense involves the illegal distribution or possession of a controlled substance in an amount less than that amount specified as a minimum for an offense under section 401(b)(1)(A) of the Controlled Substances Act (
SEC. 4. MODIFICATION OF CERTAIN SENTENCING PROVISIONS.
(d) Section 418- Section 418 of the Controlled Substances Act (
(e) Section 419- Section 419 of the Controlled Substances Act (
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