With more than 2 million people behind bars today, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. In the federal prison system, about half of all prisoners are serving time for drug offenses. While these offenses are often non-violent in nature, many of the offenders have been sentenced to long prison sentences because of harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug crimes. There are also serious concerns about racial bias in the criminal justice system. Today, one in three black men is expected to serve time in prison during his life, as compared to one in 17 white men.
As Lutherans our faith compels us to speak about against the injustices of the criminal justice system and to demand comprehensive reform. In the U.S. Senate, a bipartisan bill known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123), or SRCA, has been introduced and successfully voted out of committee. This bill could come up for a vote by the full Senate in the next several months.
Call and urge your senators to support the act as a first step toward comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system.
The SRCA, would:
- Reduce mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses;
- Make retroactive those reductions as well as provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010;
- Expand judicial discretion in setting sentences below the mandatory minimum for nonviolent, low-level offenders;
- Codify the ban on juvenile solitary confinement in federal prisons; and
- Offer ways for prisoners who participate in anti-recidivism and re-entry programs to finish their sentences in halfway houses or on home confinement, rather than in prison.
To see if your Senator is already co-sponsor of this bill, click here.
For senators not cosponsoring S. 2123: I urge the senator to support and vote for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123).
For senators cosponsoring S. 2123: I thank the senator for cosponsoring the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), and urge the senator to speak with his or her party leadership to encourage that the bill be brought to a vote.