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Giovanetti on Criminal Justice Reform, Nonviolent Drug Crime Commutations

President Trump has commuted the sentence of a woman convicted for a nonviolent drug crime. She has served 21 years of a life sentence as a first-time offender.

In an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, IPI president Tom Giovanetti said it’s time for a criminal justice overhaul on both the federal and state levels to bring back not just fiscal responsibility but also humanity to the U.S. penal system, specifically pointing out the folly of mandatory sentencing requirements which took sentencing discretion from local and state judges.

“As people who prize liberty and individual rights, and who are skeptical about government power, conservatives need to do a rethink on criminal justice,” writes Giovanetti.

“It’s becoming clear that something has gone very wrong with the justice system in the United States,” writes Giovanetti. “Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Too many crimes have been federalized, as opposed to being handled more locally by state and local courts. Excessive punishments are being meted out for non-violent crimes because of mandatory sentencing requirements.”

“Taking reasonable discretion away from judges was a mistake, and it caused a shift in power from judges to prosecutors, who can select and ‘stack’ charges involving mandatory minimums. 

“There are many pieces to the justice reform movement, including giving judges more sentencing leeway, eliminating civil asset forfeiture, and prioritizing drug treatment and in-home monitoring of incarceration,” he writes. “But commuting sentences for non-violent offenders that are far in excess of the crime is a great place to start.”


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