“On behalf of the 59 undersigned organizations representing the Justice Roundtable, we write in support of S.1917, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017. The Justice Roundtable is a national coalition of legal, civil rights, criminal justice, human rights and faith-based organizations dedicated to advancing a fairer federal criminal justice system. This legislation exemplifies bipartisan consensus around the need to increase fairness in federal sentencing and improve access to rehabilitation in prisons. We applaud your leadership on these issues and look forward to working with you to advance the legislation through the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor.
“Decades of research revealed that harsh sentencing regimes have done much more harm than good. The strict penalties designed to combat the distribution of illegal drugs did little to stem the drug trade, but swept thousands of people convicted of low-level, non-violent drug offenses into prison, separating them from their children and families. Moreover, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has reported that about 70 percent of mandatory minimums are imposed on African American and Latino individuals. 1 Federal mandatory minimums bring unjust results because prosecutors use them to coerce defendants into giving up their right to trial by pleading guilty. Those with similar criminal histories who take their cases to trial receive federal sentences that are on average three times as long as those who plead. 2 Comprehensive criminal justice and sentencing reform is needed to address these systemic problems and inequities. This bill offers the chance to begin making meaningful changes and moving towards a system that truly ensures equal justice for all.”