|In a dramatic reversal, House and Senate leaders have agreed to consider legislation before adjourning that would renew the Second Chance Act and allow for some federal sentencing reform. While the legislation is far from perfect, it represents the most comprehensive reform to federal sentencing guidelines in a generation.
The ELCA social statement, The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries, recognizes that current approaches to sentencing and incarceration, founded on an underlying punitive mindset and persistent inequalities based on race and class, impose significant costs on all involved in the system and on society as a whole. Because mass incarceration causes significant harms, our social teaching supports reform as part of the ELCA commitment to challenge systems of racial and economic injustice by moving toward fairness and equity in the church and society.
Our Representatives and Senators need to hear our priorities for this important legislation:
We ask Congress to support sentencing reform that:
- Restores judges’ discretion in sentencing decisions and decriminalizes addiction.
- Promotes greater economic and racial justice by allowing thousands of federal prisoners to seek fairer punishments than what they are currently serving.
- Focuses criminal justice funding on crime prevention and recidivism reduction, which will better serve all our communities.
- Increases individualized review of sentences for those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.
- Ensures the dignity of women in prison populations.
- Reauthorizes the Second Chance Act
Your actions have and will continue to make a difference. Together, we call on Congress to support a strong and just Sentencing Reform and renewal of the Second Chance Act. You will make an immediate impact by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be directed to your Senators and member of Congress and sharing a simple message urging them to pass this important legislation before Congress adjourns. Identify your representatives by clicking here, or see additional sample language at the ELCA Action Center.