When it Comes to Fairer Sentences, “There Are No Costs, Only Benefits”

Post Date: August 2, 2013

Check out this excellent editorial from The New York Times: Sentencing Reform Starts to Pay Off. Here are a couple excerpts (but really, you should just go read the editorial):

According to a preliminary report released by the commission, more than 7,300 federal prisoners have had their sentences shortened under the law. The average reduction is 29 months, meaning that over all, offenders are serving roughly 16,000 years fewer than they otherwise would have. And since the federal government spends about $30,000 per year to house an inmate, this reduction alone is worth nearly half-a-billion dollars.

That’s right, thanks to the retroactive application of the fairer federal crack cocaine sentencing guidelines, 7,300 people are collectively serving 16,000 fewer years in prison, saving taxpayers half a billion dollars, all at no cost to public safety.

Federal judges nationwide have long expressed vigorous disagreement with both the sentencing disparity and the mandatory minimum sentences they are forced to impose, both of which have been drivers of our bloated federal prison system. But two bipartisan bills in Congress now propose a cheaper and more humane approach. It would include reducing mandatory minimums, giving judges more flexibility to sentence below those minimums, and making more inmates eligible for reductions to their sentences under the new ratio.

Feeling inspired? Good! August is the perfect month to take action — visit your lawmakers while they are in their home states and tell them they should support sentencing reform!

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