Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Damian Dovarganes, Matt Rourke, Jae C. Hong, Arnulfo Franco, Aaron Favila / AP

Last week, two key criminal justice reform bills were announced, which have received various levels of bipartisan support. One bill by Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin lowers the minimum mandatory sentence for non-violent, drug-related crimes, while also enhancing penalties for several serious violent crimes.

Why it matters:

Almost identical bills were raised last year with a lot of momentum for criminal justice reform, but with the election and President Trump's tough-on-crime rhetoric, they died before making it to the floor.

The facts:

To arrive at a sentence for a drug-related crime, a judge will consider: the type of drug and how much was involved; whether it was for personal use or with the intent to sell; whether the person was involved in a drug dealing scheme or in manufacturing; whether there was violence involved or the person had any prior convictions; and finally, the state's specific drug crime laws. Here are the average sentences and suggested sentences given in 2016 for drug-related crimes by drug, according to the United States Sentencing Commission.

Methamphetamine
  • Percent of drug offenders: 33.6%
  • Average sentence: 7 years, 3 months
  • Average guideline sentence: 10 years, 1 month
  • Minimum sentence: 54% of meth trafficking offenders were eligible for a mandatory minimum penalty, but almost half of those were able to qualify for the safety valve, reducing that sentence.
  • Note: The number of meth offenders increased 26.4% from 2012.
Crack cocaine
  • Percent of drug offenders: 8.1%
  • Average sentence: 6 years, 7 months
  • Average guideline sentence: 8 years, 11 months
  • Minimum sentence: 46.6% of all offenders qualified for a mandatory minimum sentence, but just less than a third of those were able to reduce their sentence below the mandatory minimum.
  • Note: Crack cocaine offenders have decreased by more than half since 2012, and nearly all of them (97.5%) were American citizens, the highest percentage of citizen offenders for drug trafficking offenses.
Powder cocaine
  • Percent of drug offenders: 19.8%
  • Average sentence: 5 years, 10 months
  • Average guideline sentence: 7 years, 10 months
  • Minimum sentence: About 60% qualified for a mandatory minimum sentence, with almost 60% of those decreasing that sentence through safety valves.
  • Note: Puerto Rico was the top U.S. court district for powder cocaine offenders.
Heroin
  • Percent of drug offenders: 14.4%
  • Average sentence: 5 years, 3 months
  • Average guideline sentence: 7 years, 7 months
  • Minimum sentence: 43.1% of heroin trafficking offenders qualified for a mandatory minimum sentence, almost half were able to reduce that sentence.
  • Note: Heroine offenders have increased by 29% since 2012, and almost 40% of them had little or no prior criminal history in 2016.
Oxycodone
  • Percent of drug offenders: 2.8%
  • Average sentence: 3 years, 8 months
  • Average guideline sentence: 5 years, 9 months
  • Minimum sentence: No mandatory minimum.
  • Note: The number of offenders using Oxycodone decreased by almost half in 2 years. The Eastern District of Kentucky is the top district for these offenders.
Marijuana
  • Percent of drug offenders: 17.6%
  • Average sentence: 2 years, 2 months
  • Average guideline sentence: 2 years, 10 months
  • Minimum sentence: 27% of marijuana trafficking offenders were eligible for a mandatory minimum penalty, but almost 70% of those were able to reduce their sentence from the mandatory minimum.
  • Note: Marijuana has become decriminalized and even legalized in many states, and others impose small fines on offenders who are caught with marijuana, instead of jail time. However, some states, like Kentucky, still have strict laws against possession of marijuana. Fewer than half of marijuana offenders were American citizens.

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."