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Sheen presses Congress on drug sentencing reform

By Judy Kurtz for The Hill

Martin Sheen is using his fictional “West Wing” presidential persona to push Congress to pass real-life legislation.

The 73-year-old entertainer, who played President Bartlet in the popular NBC series, appears in a YouTube video released Tuesday urging lawmakers to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act. Bill S.1410, co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), would reform mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenders.

“A basic principle of justice is that the punishment should fit the crime. Mandatory minimums undermine that principle by forcing judges to ignore individual circumstances,” Sheen says into the camera in the three-and-a-half-minute clip.

 

The video, called “President Bartlet has a message for Congress,” was produced by Brave New Films in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Sheen, whose son, actor Charlie Sheen, has had a lengthy public battle with reported drug abuse, says in the video, “Our goal must be a justice system that avoids unnecessary incarceration and irresponsible spending.”

The video featuring the “West Wing” star may be a case of life imitating art. The political drama devoted an entire episode in 2000 to mandatory minimums, but viewers never learned whether or not President Bartlet supported repealing them.