The likely confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to be U.S. attorney general is deeply troubling. He believes people who possess marijuana should be arrested. He has recently opposed reform of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and appears to support privatized prisons. Surely clemency is beyond the pale. But the real difficulty goes far deeper than his views about particular policies. He threatens to take us back to the days before we became aware of our national collective responsibility for mass incarceration. It is only seven years – how much longer it seems – since Michelle Alexander told us in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness that the United States puts more people in prison per capita than any nation on earth and relegates African American and Hispanic communities to third-world status. Her landmark book exposed the War on Drugs, exploding in the 1980’s, as the primary cause.
Since Clergy for a New Drug Policy began, we have identified mandatory minimums as a key component of the War on Drugs requiring reform. We are pleased to announce that a bipartisan congressional committee has crafted the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which would reform unjust sentencing policies.
Clergy for a New Drug Policy opposes the harsh mandatory minimums that have radically increased the number of Americans in prison for non-violent offenses. We are excited to report that a bipartisan group of senators has crafted legislation that would reduce mandatory minimums. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 would help reverse the “tough on crime” policies that have dramatically increased the nation’s prison population and disproportionately incarcerated people of color.
The Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1410) would significantly reduce harsh minimum mandatory sentences for low-level drug offenses and help increase fairness, reduce racial disparity and limit overcrowding in the Bureau of Prisons. Sign this petition created by the Families Against Mandatory Minimums to support the passage of the Smarter Sentencing Act. To learn more about this issue, visit our Take Action page on Mandatory Minimums.