WASHINGTON (September 10, 2020)—The R Street Institute applauds the introduction of the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Coons (D-DE).
This bill will take a step toward federal bail reform by removing the presumption of detention for individuals suspected of committing a federal drug offense. This small alteration to federal criminal law will free judges to make detention decisions that reflect whether a defendant actually poses a flight risk or a threat to public safety. In doing so, this legislation would eliminate a burdensome and overbroad piece of the federal criminal code.
According to R Street Senior Fellow Lars Trautman: “This bill would make federal pretrial detention a fairer and more financially efficient case-by-case decision by shifting the primary focus of the judiciary to the facts of the case rather than charges filed. Under current law, defendants often face pretrial detention for federal drug charges, even if they are not a flight risk or danger to the community.”