During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey signaled support for Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, calling the bill “reasonable.” The legislation, which would expand the existing federal “safety valve” exception to mandatory minimum sentences, was approved by the committee in October and is awaiting action before the full Senate, which could happen in early 2016. In early November, FreedomWorks released a letter of support for the bill.
Before serving as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Comey was a United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a deputy attorney general in the President George W. Bush’s administration. Another former Bush administration official, Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general from November 2007 to January 2009, testified in support of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) brought up the legislation during Wednesday’s hearing. “Earlier this year this committee in a bipartisan fashion approved a sentencing reform bill that reduces, does not eliminates but reduces mandatory minimum sentences. As I’ve said oftentimes publicly, I’d like to see an end to all mandatory minimums, but, at least, it’s a good step in reforming our criminal justice system,” said Leahy. “Do you agree that it strikes a reasonable balance?”
Comey noted that the FBI does not take positions on legislation before Congress, but he did signal support, though he stopped just short of endorsing the bill. “I actually read the bill and…