Growing political recognition that mass incarceration carries tremendous social and economic costs
►Call congress today urging support for Youth PROMISE Act
We recently saw a news article that you should read. Ken Cuccinelli, State Attorney General and Republican candidate in Virginia’s Governor race, is now running on the idea of being smarter with criminal sentencing. You may have also read the big news recently that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was ordering Justice Department prosecutors to change the way they file cases in order to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. While this change is limited to federal cases, it will make a very real difference by allowing judges to move away from needlessly harsh sentences.
Increasingly, politicians, “both liberal and conservative”, are realizing that mass incarceration has tremendous costs, both monetary and social. Our communities suffer, our children suffer, our state budgets suffer, and we still aren’t safer. We need to focus our attention on healing our communities. Many programs have been shown to proactively prevent crime and dramatically reduce justice system costs.
That’s why we’re promoting a bipartisan bill, The Youth PROMISE Act, to support accountable, evidence based prevention and intervention programs, chosen by local stakeholders to proactively engage at-risk youth in their own communities.
There are approaches more healing than incarceration that produce more positive outcomes and are cost effective. Nationwide, the average yearly cost to house a Juvenile inmate is $88,000. In California, they’re spending $252,000 per year for each incarcerated youth. Are they getting their money’s worth? We don’t think so.
In contrast, mentoring programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters that are proven to be effective at reducing crime and violence, cost less than $1,000 a year. And it’s not just about money. In Longmont, Colorado, youth who completed their Restorative Justice program had recidivism rates under 10%. In the traditional juvenile system nationwide, those rates exceed 70%.
Restorative Justice programs like this one address an incident from multiple perspectives, including stakeholders such as the person harmed, the person whose action caused the harm, and other affected community members – to seek greater understanding of the ramifications of the incident, opportunities for healing and accountability, and deep-seated shifting in behaviors.
The Youth PROMISE Act would provide vital support to such programs THAT ARE CHOSEN AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL. With passage of this bill we can reduce crime, save money, and give youth a far better future.
Call Your Members of Congress Today!
Urge them to pass HR1318/S1307 now.
You can find their phone numbers here: https://org.salsalabs.com/o/696/getLocal.jsp or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Here is a quick and easy SAMPLE SCRIPT of what you can say to your Representative:
My name is _____, I am a constituent calling today to urge the Congress(wo)man to co-sponsor the Youth PROMISE Act, HR 1318, sponsored by Congressmen Bobby Scott and Walter Jones. The Youth PROMISE Act is an approach to addressing youth violence and crime that uses proven preventive strategies chosen by local communities. It saves money and saves lives, and would only fund approaches that have already been proven to work. For these reasons, I think the Congress(wo)man should sign on in support of the Youth PROMISE Act.
Here is a quick and easy SAMPLE SCRIPT of what you can say to your Senators:
My name is _____, I am a constituent calling today to urge the Senator to co-sponsor the Youth PROMISE Act, S. 1307, sponsored by Senators Landreiu and Inhofe. The Youth PROMISE Act is an approach to addressing youth violence and crime that uses proven preventive strategies chosen by local communities. It saves money and saves lives, and would only fund approaches that have already been proven to work. For these reasons, I think the Senator should sign on in support of the Youth PROMISE Act.
Call any time, most elected officials have voice mail after hours and you can simply leave a message.
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