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Hold the Phone on the SSA

The primary argument for the Smarter Sentencing Act  --  the proposal that would slash by half mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers  --  is that MM's, though often only a half to a third of what the guidelines range would be for a given offender, are still unnecessarily harsh, and are driving the federal prison budget through the roof.  To save money if for no other reason, we need for these offenders to be spending less time behind bars.

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that we don't need a statutory change to do that. The President has always had unilateral power to reduce what he views as excessive sentences. Still, many have argued, up to now, that citing his clemency power is like citing the Abominable Snowman, because it never really seems to show up where anyone can see it.

That's where today's long and seemingly well-informed Yahoo news article comes in. It reports that the President is making ready to issue "hundreds if not thousands" of sentencing commutations to exactly the people the SSA is designed for.  And this is not the first time we've heard about this.

With the President apparently making ready to fix the "problem" at which the SSA is aimed (assuming one views it as a "problem"),  and simultaneously demonstrating that he's more than ready to fix such "problems" should they arise in the future, Congress should, at the minimum, defer action on the SSA to see what the lay of the incarceration land is after what is shaping up as the President's sweeping action.

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