1000 Religious Leaders Call for Smarter Federal Drug Sentencing

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From the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

Hundreds of faith leaders affiliated with more than 40 faith organizations, including Roman Catholics, Jews, Evangelical Protestants and Mainline Protestants signed onto a letter calling on Congress to support the Smarter Sentencing Act (S1410/HR3382). This action represents a growing movement of religious leaders speaking out on the problem of over incarceration and harsh sentencing policies.

The letter was coordinated by the Faith in Action Criminal Justice Reform Working Group, a coalition of 43 faith organizations chaired by the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society. This builds on a campaign by other religious leaders who released an Easter Statement calling for an end to drug decriminalization in April.

If passed, the act would reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for individuals convicted of federal drug offenses. The call for smarter sentencing is indicative of the shortsightedness and haste in which our sentencing and drug laws are made and the lack of any real assessment of the socio-economic and public health impact of these laws on families.

Mandatory minimum sentences have wreaked havoc on mostly black and brown families and low income communities. The atrocities that exist in the federal criminal justice system cannot and should not be ignored. There are currently 2000 individuals in the federal system who are serving a life without parole sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. Additionally, of the 216,000 individuals in the federal prison system, 50 percent are locked up for a drug offense. Our policymakers in Washington D.C believed then and continue to believe that passing laws that are unconscionable and morally reckless are politically savvy when done in the name of public safety.

They were wrong.

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