Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote Senate moves toward vote on ending support for Saudi-led war MORE (R-Utah) announced that their bill to reform nonviolent drug sentencing would reduce prison costs by more than $4 billion.

“Making smart reforms to our drug sentencing laws will save the taxpayers billions of dollars,” Lee said on Monday.


On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that Durbin and Lee’s bill would save the federal government $4.36 billion in prison costs by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

“Today’s CBO report proves that, not only are mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses often unfair, they are also fiscally irresponsible,” Durbin said. “By making the incremental, targeted changes that Sen. Lee and I have proposed in our Smarter Sentencing Act, we can save taxpayers billions without jeopardizing public safety.”

The two senators said their legislation is needed to reduce federal spending and because mandatory minimum drug sentences have caused an unsustainable spike in incarceration rates. Over the past 30 years, the number of inmates in federal prisons has increased by 500 percent. 

Their bill doesn’t repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions but allows judges to determine a sentence based on an individual’s circumstances.