Right now, the House is considering a bill on Sentencing Reform. But while we we would love to see real changes in our sentencing laws, the bill- The Sentencing Reform act of 2015, H.R. 3713- could be made much better.
We’re asking you to tell Congress to amend H.R. 3713 so that it doesn’t create new mandatory drug penalties, expand existing mandatory minimums associated with the “War on Drugs” to whole new classes of people who aren’t currently allowed to be charged with those penalties, prevent certain offenders from benefiting from the bill’s sentence reductions, or prevent those already sentenced under the former 100:1 crack-to-powder sentencing disparity from even being able to apply to the court to seek relief.
The United States has 25% of the world’s prisoners with only 5% of its population, in large part due to lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. The Sentencing Reform Act would reduce many of these sentences for future offenders, but would prevent most of those currently sentenced from seeking relief. And despite a nearly universal consensus that drug sentences got us into today’s disaster of mass incarceration, the Sentencing Reform Act adds an enhancement to certain heroin sentences.
Certainly, we applaud the fact that the Sentencing Reform Act reduces some mandatory sentences. This is indeed a good start. But it needs to be fixed in several important ways, most of which have already gotten substantial bipartisan support in the Senate– to ensure that we are passing meaningful and significant criminal justice reform that will help those who need it the most. This bill can be improved, but we need you to let your Members of Congress know that it’s important to you.