We are excited to announce that yesterday Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) introduced a sentencing reform package aimed at protecting and advancing the human rights of children in the justice system.
Human Rights for Kids worked closely with Congressman Westerman on the development of his new and innovative legislation, which we believe will be a game-changer in the way we treat the most vulnerable causalities of mass incarceration in America – our children.
The first bill, HR 1950 – also known as Sara’s Law – will allow judges to depart from any mandatory minimum sentence or suspend any portion of a sentence when a child has committed a crime against someone who has previously trafficked or sexually abused them. Sara, the namesake of HR 1950, had this to say about this groundbreaking new bill: “If as a 16-year-old child I was treated with the empathy, compassion and human kindness envisioned by Congressman Westerman’s bill I would not have endured nearly 20 years of unjust incarceration. This bill is about igniting hope in others and making a clear statement that our justice system will no longer allow such injustices to be imposed on child victims of sex abuse and sex trafficking.”
The HuffPost published an extensive piece on the introduction of Sara’s Law which featured Human Rights for Kids, which you can read and share with your networks HERE.
The second bill, HR 1949, addresses the use of mandatory minimum sentences on all children in the justice system. Under this proposal, judges will consider how children are different from adult offenders prior to sentencing and will be allowed to depart up to 35 percent away from the otherwise applicable mandatory minimum sentence. This is another bill that Human Rights for Kids developed that had never been done before.
And finally, the last bill, HR 1951, would eliminate life without parole sentences for children in the federal criminal justice system. This is a carry-over bill that our friends at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth helped get introduced in the last Congress by Congressman Westerman.
This package of human rights legislation to protect children in the justice system has gained national media attention, with the National Review remarking yesterday that:
“Arkansas Republican Bruce Westerman’s proposal is the right thing to do — and politically savvy, too.”
Please read and share the National Review’s profile piece of Congressman Westerman’s legislative package HERE.
Yesterday was our first step toward changing the way the nation treats children in the federal criminal justice system. Last year, President Trump signed the First Step Act into law. We intend to make sure that the Second Step of Criminal Justice Reform focuses on the human rights of our nation’s children. Perhaps nothing in our lifetimes will be more important.
One way for you to help make sure we succeed is for you to contact your member of Congress which you can look up HERE, and ask them to support all 3 of Congressman Westerman’s human rights bills and to sign-on as a co-sponsor.
Thank you for your support and making this moment possible. We wouldn’t be here without you. Stay tuned for more updates on how you can help in our federal campaign to advance and protect the human rights of children in the justice system.
With hope and love,