Time for Congress to Embrace Criminal Reform
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Time for Congress to Embrace Criminal Reform
Posted by CN Staff on October 19, 2015 at 08:35:23 PT
By Craig DeRoche
Source: Hill
Washington, D.C. -- Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony regarding a historic reform legislation that provides a restorative approach to criminal justice. Earlier this month, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), along with seven of their colleagues, introduced the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. This Act, with bipartisan sponsorship and support, moves toward a more proportionate system of criminal punishment.There has been growing momentum for criminal justice reform at the state and federal level, but now is the time to seize the moment in Congress. 
Despite some reductions in the prison population, the Bureau of Prisons reports an approximately 30 percent overcrowding rate overall, with highest-security facilities housing more than 50 percent more prisoners than they were built for. The Department of Justice spends more than a quarter of its budget on corrections—currently more than $8 billion—and this number continues to increase.These are serious challenges that have helped push the need for reform to the forefront, but utilitarian goals aren’t the primary driver behind the legislation. Rather, the senators involved in crafting this reform are inspired by their shared values to restore more just and proportionate sentencing and provide a more constructive prison culture that better prepares men and women to leave as contributing members of society. As Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in a recent speech about the legislation, “The question isn’t whether we punish those who break the law, but how we punish them—for how long, under what circumstances, and toward what end.”The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act works to address all these components. First with respect to “how long,” the bill tackles disproportionate sentences by narrowing the scope of mandatory minimums application to more serious offenses and gives judges more flexibility at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes. The bill applies some of these reforms retroactively. We believe this honors a moral imperative, as inflicting greater-than-warranted punishment disparages human dignity. This reform is targeted to men and women who received sentences that were disproportionate and unjust with respect to their crimes. And we should not arbitrarily limit application to those lucky enough to be sentenced after the bill’s passage, but should retroactively apply this law to those with disproportionate sentences.This Act also takes one more important step that gets at the “how” and “to what end” we punish wrongdoing. Our laws should not be focused merely on locking up “bad” people, but should be aimed at bringing good people home. By providing for and incentivizing evidence-based programs that are proven to reduce recidivism rates, this legislation gives the opportunity for those who are incarcerated to experience character development and change.As a leader at the late Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship, I have seen firsthand how important these opportunities are and how much untapped human potential sits in the cells of prisons across America. Implemented effectively, this legislation ultimately results in releasing equipped people into communities where safer reintegration after a prison term can be more than a pipe dream.Real and lasting reform, both of the criminal justice system and of the individual, must unwaveringly value human life. The introduction of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is a watershed moment that moves our nation toward a more proportionate and restorative system of punishment.As the members of the Judiciary Committee listen to testimony today and prepare to vote on Thursday, I pray they will seize the moment.DeRoche is the former speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives and the executive director of Justice Fellowship, the advocacy arm of Prison Fellowship.Source: Hill, The (US DC)Author: Craig DeRochePublished: October 19, 2015Copyright: 2015 The HillContact: jennifery thehill.comWebsite: Justice Archives 
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Comment #13 posted by Sam Adams on October 21, 2015 at 19:16:16 PT
wow, very impressive moves by this guy. We've been waiting for this for many years. when will the young high-tech bilionaires help to stop the WOD? The entire high-tech industry, including the internet, was basically started by a bunch of stoners and freaks. I've talked to many of them!I've known many programmers who claim that cannabis helps them do their job.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 21, 2015 at 11:12:26 PT
Mark Zuckerberg Blasts US Marijuana Policy
Mark Zuckerberg blasts US Marijuana Policy, Calls for Prison ReformMark Zuckerberg adds his voice to the prison reform debateFacebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is speaking out against marijuana laws and calling for prison reform after spending a day in California’s San Quentin Prison.Zuckerberg took a trip to the Bay Area facility last week after reading “The New Jim Crow,” a book by Michelle Alexander that examines the ties between mass incarceration and racial injustice in America.In an impassioned Facebook post, Zuckerberg explained that he “wanted to see first hand what prison conditions are like for people.”He calls out US marijuana policy for being particularly racially unjust, and writes, “We can’t jail our way to a just society, and our current system isn’t working.”Per Zuckerberg’s Facebook post:US jails hold around 2.4 million people — about 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to be arrested for possession and sale of marijuana and to receive a conviction and criminal record, even though the majority of marijuana users are non-Hispanic whites. Almost 40 percent of prisoners are black. More than half the people entering prison live below the poverty line. Our entire society pays the price for an unfair, broken system.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on October 20, 2015 at 20:33:28 PT
Yes, I've noticed that, too, Sam.
Looking back, I don't know why we ever expected much from their government. They've done some pretty goofy things themselves, though maybe not as bloody, deadly, and devastating as our country's war on cannabis consumers has been. They haven't exactly been bravely boldly going forth or anything, not even fifteen years ago... and I remember them doing lots of really stupid stuff with medical now that you mention it.I guess because they didn't go after the two Steves at first, like many of us feared they would. And with Marc and other activists resisting away up there, I guess we thought there might be more to them than there really was.
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on October 20, 2015 at 17:44:45 PT
canadian fed govt.
Hope, good point, if this does happen Canada would change its federal law before us. I'm a little concerned by the rhetoric though - they're talking about removing possession and consumption from the criminal code. That's decrim, not legalization. "Strictly" regulating and "controlling" and "taxing" marijuana distributionÉdoesn't sound good. Will Canadians be able to grow cannabis without being raided and jailed? Still unknown. Remember, the Canadian feds' idea of legal medical MJ was every patient in the whole country buying it from one supplier.
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Comment #9 posted by Universer on October 20, 2015 at 17:44:33 PT
O Cannabis!
When I saw Harper was gone and Trudeau was in, it made my day. And the only thing I have in common with Canada is I like hockey.Because of differences in the two forms of government, Canada can move much more quickly on the federal level than can the U.S. Doesn't mean they will, or they'll do it any time soon...but with Harper and the Conservatives in power, it wasn't going to happen ever.Now we could have a North American nation with a regulated cannabis market within four years.O Cannabis!
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on October 20, 2015 at 17:14:05 PT
I, too, remember thinking Canada would be first, some time ago. But they still may get there nationally before we do.It has been very impressive watching our states step up and take responsibility in this matter.
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on October 20, 2015 at 16:40:09 PT
Business article 
good one:
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on October 20, 2015 at 16:38:29 PT
finally, change
wow, I'm sure we all remember how close Canada was to legalizing around 2001. The "summer of legalization". Never would have guessed that the US would go first.The timing is right for Canada - I doubt they're sending as much weed south with several states legalizing. If Maine and Vermont go next year that's two more border states with legal herb. Quebec is ready for it, the francophones do not like Harper or the Canadian federal government under him at all!  Quebec has the highest level of support for legalization too.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 20, 2015 at 15:42:40 PT
I am so happy that they finally got a Liberal back in power! Now things will change!
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on October 20, 2015 at 09:52:51 PT
2 more for the Repub prohibitionists
As GOP candidates debate economy, Colorado pot offers opportunity industry drives Denver metro area's real estate recoveryOne in 11 industrial buildings in central Denver now houses marijuana cultivation, CBRE report says 2 news articles are representative of many coming out daily.Republicans who choose to ignore cannabis or continue the path of cannabis prohibition are not in touch with reality and voters note their separation from reality.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on October 20, 2015 at 08:49:20 PT
Grassley is involved in sentence reductions?
Wasn't he one of the front runners and instigators causing all this wickedness in sentencing in the first place?
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on October 20, 2015 at 08:45:24 PT
I'm excited about Trudeau.
When will he take office? I've looked and can't find that information in the articles I've looked at.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on October 19, 2015 at 20:35:02 PT
VERY Good news.
Looks like Harper is OUT.There are many many reasons to vote out Harper, the cannabis issue is one of many.U.S. prohibitionist politicians make note; You're next.-0-CN BC: PUB LTE: Vote For Cannabis
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