The Three-Minute Case for Sentencing Reform, Featuring Martin Sheen

Post Date: April 22, 2014

Understanding the impact of bad sentencing policy, and the need for reform, just got a whole lot easier, thanks to a new short documentary produced by Brave New Films and narrated by Martin Sheen, who played a sentence-commuting president on The West Wing.

In “President Bartlet has a message for Congress,” a cast of law enforcement professionals recount from experience how the creation of harsh mandatory minimum sentencing policies have tied the hands of seasoned judges, drained resources from law enforcement agencies, and destabilized communities, all in the name of winning a war that can’t actually be won.

“You could release a trilogy of features about the unintended consequences of mandatory minimums,” says Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “Thankfully, Brave New Films has distilled the issue to its essence: Mandatory minimums overcrowd our prisons, fleece our taxpayers, and devastate our communities, all without improving public safety.”

Check out the video for more: 


 “America puts more of its people behind bars than any other country on Earth,” says Robert Greenwald, president and founder of Brave New Films. “One major contributor is the over-reliance on harsh mandatory minimum sentences, which lock away non-violent drug offenders for excessively long times, at the cost of billions of dollars.”

In addition to America’s favorite fictional president, the three-minute documentary features real-life authorities who can attest to the need for sentencing reform, including Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, Dallas Re-entry Court Judge Thomas Francis, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, and several other law enforcement and criminal justice veterans.

“When BNF joined with FAMM and the ACLU to rally support for the Smart Sentencing Act, we couldn’t think of a better spokesperson than Martin Sheen,” Greenwald says. “When he portrayed President Bartlett on the West Wing, his character commuted the sentences of non-violent drug offenders. In the real world, Martin Sheen has been an advocate for sentencing reform and alternatives to the harsh, long prison sentences we give to non-violent drug offenders.”

“Federal sentencing reform can put a stop to unnecessarily long sentences that have led to bloated, overcrowded prisons and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars that could be better invested in our communities.,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “This tremendous new video by Brave New Films lays out those facts and adds a powerful voice to the growing chorus of support for the Smarter Sentencing Act.”

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