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October 26, 2021

Trone, Crenshaw, Mace, Dean, Spartz Introduce the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act of 2021


October 26, 2021 

Contact: Sasha Galbreath, 

Trone, Crenshaw, Mace, Dean, Spartz Introduce the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act of 2021 

New Legislation Would Eliminate the Presumption of Pretrial Detention for Most Federal Drug Charges

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-MD), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Victoria Spartz (R-IN) introduced the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act of 2021. The bill would eliminate the presumption of pretrial detention for most federal drug charges by allowing courts to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Generally, a federal judge assesses whether the accused is a flight risk or a potential danger to the community. However, with certain crimes, there is a presumption that the accused needs to be detained while awaiting trial. These crimes include terrorism and child trafficking, but also most non-violent federal drug charges. Judges should have the ability to make case-by-case decisions on whether someone should be detained before their trial, specifically for non-violent drug offenses.

“We shouldn’t have a blanket presumption of pretrial detention for non-violent drug offenses,” said Congressman Trone. “There’s no reason why a sex offender or terrorist should be treated the same as someone who is being charged with a non-violent crime. The stigma associated with addiction has caused us to view folks committing non-violent drug crimes as dangerous, instead of needing rehabilitation. I’d like to thank Representatives Crenshaw, Mace, Dean, and Spartz for standing with me on this issue. Together, we will create a justice system that is, in fact, just.”  

Congressman Trone was joined by a bipartisan group of Members in support of this effort:

“We need a smarter approach to dealing with non-violent drug offenses in our criminal justice system,” said Congressman Crenshaw. “Rather than a one-size-fits-all pre-trial detention policy for non-violent drug offenses, we should allow courts to make individualized determinations that are appropriate for each defendant. This bipartisan bill is a good step forward in that direction.”

“Reforming drug sentencing for non-violent drug offenders should be a priority for our criminal justice system. Pretrial detention rates are at a record high because non-violent drug offenders are automatically lumped into offenders with terrorism and child trafficking charges. This needs to change,” said Congresswoman Mace. “Under the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act, this blanket pretrial detention presumption will be removed, allowing the federal courts to individualize sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.”

“When we know better, we do better – and the Smarter Pretrial Detention Bill will address another badge of the failed War on Drugs,” Congresswoman Dean said. “Non-violent drug crimes should not carry the same criminal punishments as terrorism or child trafficking – I’m delighted to join this bipartisan effort to take another step towards treating drug addiction as the health issue it is.”

“I am proud to co-lead the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act providing judges with more flexibility instead of the current one-size-fits-all approach, which decreases the efficiency and efficacy of the criminal justice system,” said Rep. Spartz.

This legislation has been endorsed by American Civil Liberties Union, American Conservative Union, Due Process Institute, R Street Institute, Right on Crime, Successful Reentry, Tzedek


“This change in our justice system is long overdue,” said Jason Pye of the Due Process Institute. “The decision of pretrial detention should be put in a judge’s hands, especially when we’re considering nonviolent drug offenses. We fully support the passage of the Smarter Pretrial Detention Act.”

See bill text here.

See more information here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress and previously served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the mental health and addiction crises, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.