Smarter Sentencing Act

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Teleforum
Start : Monday, March 24, 2014 02:00 PM
End : Monday, March 24, 2014 03:00 PM

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Featured Speakers:
John G. Malcolm
William G. Otis


Numerous proposals in Congress, the Justice Department and the Sentencing Commission would bring down the sentences now given to those convicted of federal drug offenses. Probably the most prominent of these is the proposed Smarter Sentencing Act, which was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with the support of all its Democratic members and several Republicans. The Act would, among other things, reduce the mandatory minimum sentences judges must now give certain classes of drug offenders and would expand the existing Safety Valve that has enabled some defendants to avoid the mandatory minimum.

Proponents of the Smarter Sentencing Act say that our prisons are overcrowded and that the pendulum has swung too far in terms of mandatory minimum penalties for non-violent drug offenders. Opponents say that stern mandatory sentencing has helped bring down crime, reined in irrational disparities from one courtroom to the next, insured at least a rock-bottom sentence for socially destructive behavior, and has been more than worth the expense through the savings reduced crime has brought about.

Presenting the case for the SSA will be Harvard Law graduate John Malcolm, formerly an Assistant United States Attorney and a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division during the George W. Bush Administration and now Director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Presenting the opposing case will be Stanford Law graduate William G. Otis, former Chief of the Appellate Division in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special White House Counsel for President George H. W. Bush, and currently an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.


  • John G. Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation
  • Prof. William G. Otis, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

Call begins at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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