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Federal Sentencing Reporter

  • Turning off the Spigot: How Sentencing Safety Valves Can Help States Protect Public Safety and Save Money

    “This report examines several states’ ‘‘safety valve’’ statutes - legislation that allows judges to bypass a mandatory sentence under certain circumstances ... a safety valve for cases where the mandatory minimum sentence would be unjust ... [It] should serve as a guide to lawmakers and policy advisors across the country who are seeking to reduce their states’ inmate populations and save precious resources currently spent on incarceration” (p. 349). Sections of this report discuss: the rising costs and shrinking benefits of mass incarceration; states take the lead in rethinking sentencing policies; sentencing reform being the smartest reform; how a safety valve works; state safety valves; the benefits of a safety valve-protect public safety, give courts flexibility to punish enough but not too much, and save taxpayers money; and a model state sentencing safety valve. Appendixes provide: legislative language that defines sentencing safety valves in Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oregon, and Virginia; and the legislative language for the federal safety value statute.