Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (12/23/2016)

Sentencing Reform Act of 2015

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to reduce from 20 to 15 years and from life to 25 years the mandatory minimum prison terms for certain nonviolent repeat drug offenses. (A drug offense includes the unlawful import, export, manufacture, or distribution of, or the possession with intent to distribute, a controlled substance.)

Additionally, it establishes an enhanced mandatory prison term of up to five years for a drug offense involving heroin that contains fentanyl or fentanyl that is represented or sold as heroin.

The bill limits the prior convictions which trigger enhanced mandatory minimum prison terms.

(Sec. 3) The bill amends the federal criminal code to expand safety valve eligibility to permit a court to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum for certain nonviolent, cooperative drug defendants with a limited criminal history.

(Sec. 4) A court may impose a reduced 5-year (instead of a statutory 10-year) mandatory minimum prison term for certain nonviolent, cooperative defendants convicted of a high-level first-time or low-level repeat drug offense. (A high-level drug offense involves a very substantial drug quantity, such as one kilogram or more of heroin. A low-level drug offense involves a substantial drug quantity, such as 100 grams to 999 grams of heroin.)

It reduces the enhanced mandatory minimum prison term for certain defendants who commit a high-level repeat drug offense, use a firearm in a crime of violence or drug offense after a prior conviction for such offense, or unlawfully possess a firearm after three or more prior convictions. It permits retroactive application of such reductions for defendants without a prior serious violent felony conviction, after a court considers certain factors.

(Sec. 5) The bill reduces from 25 to 15 years the mandatory minimum prison term for a defendant who uses a firearm in a crime of violence or drug offense after a prior conviction for such offense. A court may apply the reductions retroactively, subject to certain exceptions, after considering certain factors.

(Sec. 6) It reduces from 15 to 10 years the enhanced mandatory minimum prison term for an armed career criminal convicted of unlawful firearm possession after three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. A court may apply the reductions retroactively, after considering certain factors.

(Sec. 7) The bill makes the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive to permit resentencing of a convicted crack cocaine offender sentenced before August 3, 2010.

(Sec. 8) The Department of Justice must report to Congress on mandatory minimum sentencing provisions under federal law.

(Sec. 9) It expresses the sense of Congress that a comprehensive strategy to reform the criminal justice system must integrate a mental health component.