DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network


Crime Bill Update
-- A Little More Time, But Please Act Soon

Disagreement over certain provisions of the Crime Bill, particularly the Racial Justice Act (allowing death penalties to be appealed on the basis of racial bias) and the Assault Weapons Ban, have delayed passage of the bill and given us a little more time to try to influence certain portions of it. Of particular concern to drug law reformers are the "Three-Strikes-You're- Out" provision and the "Safety-Valve".

A lifetime sentence for any but the most violent of crimes is unjust. But since some version of three-strikes will definitely be enacted, our goal is to persuade Congress to not include non-violent drug offenses in the legislation.

The safety valve passed by the House is retroactive; that is, certain non- violent drug offenders currently incarcerated could be resentenced under the federal sentencing guidelines, and approximately 1600 people would be freed early. The senate is giving some trouble on the retroactivity, however, and the Clinton administration has opposed it. Our goal is to persuade the Crime Bill conference committee to enact a retroactive safety valve; the "Chairman's Mark", the version currently in committee, contains a safety valve which is not retroactive.

The most important thing for you to do is to contact your two senators and your representative, and ask them to lobby the conference committee for retroactivity in the safety valve and for removing non-violent drug offenses from the three-strikes legislation. If you don't know how to contact your senators or your representative (or who they are), you can find out by calling the Congressional Switchboard, at (202) 224-3121 (Senate) or (202) 225-3121 (House). The addresses for any member of Congress are:

        The Honorable {your congressman}        The Honorable {your senator}

        House of Representatives                United States Senate 

        Washington, D.C. 20515                  Washington, D.C. 20510

If you've already contacted your legislators -- contact them again!

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a Washington based sentencing reform group, asks its supporters additionally to contact the following members of the conference committee regarding retroactivity of the safety valve (all phone numbers have area code 202):

                                        phone           fax

        Sen. Joseph Biden* (D)          224-5225        224-0139 or 224-9516 

        Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D)       224-4521        224-2302 

        Sen. Orrin Hatch (R)            224-5251        224-6361 or 224-9102 

        Sen. Strom Thurmond (R)         224-5972        224-1300 

        Sen. Alan Simpson (R)           224-3424        224-1315 

        Sen. Charles Grassley (R)       224-3744        224-6020

* chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee

FAMM also suggests you contact the following two representatives who are not on the conference committee but are in contact with the White House:

Rep. Thomas P. Foley 225-2006
Rep. Richard Gephardt 225-2671 225-7452

FAMM updates can be obtained from the FAMM hotline, at (703) 685-6860. You can reach FAMM at:

If you like what you see here and want to get these bulletins by e-mail, please fill out our quick signup form at http://www.drcnet.org/signup.html.

Click to sign up now

Return to Rapid-Response-Team Chronological Listing

Drug Reform Coordination Network