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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 20, 2016
Over 70 Top Police Chiefs and Prosecutors Urge Congress to Pass Criminal Justice Reform
Sentencing Bill Necessary to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, Top Law Enforcement Officials Say
Washington, D.C. — In an unprecedented show of support for criminal justice reform by law enforcement, members of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration — a group of police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys, federal prosecutors, and attorneys general—sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership today urging Congress to pass sentencing reform. The letter comes on the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a major hearing on criminal justice reform.
The letter, signed by over 70 prominent police chiefs and federal prosecutors, urges Congress to act on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, which would reduce prison populations by reforming federal mandatory minimum sentences. This powerful endorsement from an unexpected source could provide a critical boost to the bill, as the Senate holds a major hearing on justice reform today. In the letter, law enforcement officials explain that incarceration levels in the United States have reached a crisis point and that all evidence shows that our high levels of incarceration have failed to make our country safer. Instead, skyrocketing incarceration has diverted vital law enforcement resources from targeting serious and violent crime.
Republican cosponsors of the bill Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) circulated the letter this morning to every member of Congress, along with acompanion letter from former federal law enforcement officials.
“This is a unique moment of rare bipartisan consensus on the urgent need for criminal justice reform,” the letter reads. “As law enforcement leaders, we want to make clear where we stand: Not only is passing federal mandatory minimum reform necessary to reduce incarceration, it is also necessary to help law enforcement continue to keep crime at its historic lows across the country.”
“Today, law enforcement leaders from across the nation join together to let our lawmakers know that reforming federal mandatory minimum sentences will help keep down crime and unnecessary incarceration. As police chiefs and prosecutors, our first priority is public safety. But we know first-hand from our experience that our country’s high levels of incarceration are not making us safer.” said Ronal Serpas, Co-Chair of Law Enforcement Leaders and former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department. “To help law enforcement do our jobs better, we urge Congress to act to swiftly pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.”
Other prominent signatories include Richard Thornburgh, former Attorney General of the United States for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Tom Manger, President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association,and Richard Rossman, Executive Director of the National Association of Former United States Attorneys.
The full text of the letter can be found here. Signatories include:
About Law Enforcement Leaders
Law Enforcement Leaders unites more than 160 current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, federal and state prosecutors, and attorneys general from all 50 states to urge for a reduction in both crime and incarceration. We believe that the country can reduce incarceration while keeping down crime, and we support changes to our criminal justice system to achieve that goal.