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Congress looks to relax prison terms

on September 17, 2013 10:20 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Concerns about the fairness and the costs of mandatory minimum sentences have been growing in Congress. Now the issue is gaining speed as an unusual coalition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats push for the largest overhaul of federal sentencing guidelines yet.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on mandatory minimum sentences this week. The committee is considering two bills, each sponsored by a liberal Democrat and a tea party Republican, which would allow judges to waive the mandatory minimums in many circumstances, particularly for some drug crimes.

Wednesday’s hearing is the first step in legislation that advocates and lawmakers in both parties say stands a chance of winning enactment by the end of the year.

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