The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Will Mesinger;

The Sentencing Project Condemns Passage of House Bill Expanding Mandatory Minimums

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl (HALT) Act (H.R. 467). The bill expands mandatory minimums for fentanyl analogue cases and permanently schedules all fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I, without first testing them for benefits or harm. Unlike other permanent scheduling bills considered by Congress this session, the HALT Fentanyl Act also includes no “offramp” provisions that would permit analogues to be descheduled if they are later found to be harmless or inert.

Fentanyl analogues are substances which appear to be chemically similar to fentanyl. Some fentanyl analogues have little to no addictive potential. Currently, fentanyl analogues are criminalized via the Federal Analogue Act, which requires that prosecutors establish that a fentanyl analogue is substantially similar to a controlled substance in order to secure a conviction. Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II controlled substance.

Sentencing Reform Counsel Liz Komar issued the following statement:

“By passing this bill, the House has signaled that Congress is entering a new carceral era. The federal prison population has been on the rise since the beginning of the Biden administration after seven years of decline. The passage of the HALT Fentanyl Act would deepen that trend by doubling down on failed drug policies that prioritize prisons over drug treatment and overwhelmingly harm Black and Brown communities.

If mandatory minimums and harsh sentences made communities safer, the overdose crisis would not have occurred. We urge the Senate to reject this bill and all expansions of mandatory minimums and reverse this punitive trend.

President Biden must condemn today’s House action and promise to veto the HALT Fentanyl Act. During his campaign for president, Biden promised to oppose mandatory minimum sentences and significantly reduce the prison population.

This year marks 50 years of mass incarceration in America and the highest death toll of the overdose crisis yet. We urge President Biden and Congress to take meaningful action to undo both.”

The Sentencing Project is a leader in changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment. The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

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