[Episcopal Public Policy Network] “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
It’s no secret that the Bureau of Federal Prisons is severely overcrowded. Operating at nearly 40 percent of its capacity, the federal prison population has grown about 800 percent since 1980. Many prisoners receive mandatory minimum sentences, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to sentencing that can result in harsh sentences that are disproportionate to the crime committed. An inordinate percentage of the prison population consists of people of color, and these racial disparities are often exacerbated by mandatory minimum sentences.
As Episcopalians, we believe that mandatory minimum sentencing should be repealed so that federal trial judges can craft individualized, proportional sentences. We also support rehabilitative and educational opportunities for prisoners so that they can be contributing citizens upon their release rather than fall into the destructive trap of recidivism.
- 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, is a bipartisan bill that takes modest steps toward reforming our criminal justice system through reducing certain mandatory minimum sentences, restoring some discretion to the federal trial judges, and making the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. The bill also expands recidivism reduction programming for qualifying prisoners and limits the use of juvenile solitary confinement.
While The Episcopal Church objects to the new mandatory minimum sentences introduced in S. 2123, overall the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will help to make the U.S. prison system a more just and compassionate place for our brothers and sisters living behind bars. Please contact your senator today and ask them to cosponsor S. 2123!