Two pieces of legislation amount to a step in the right direction toward meaningful criminal justice reform, said the bishop who chairs the Domestic Justice and Human Development Committee of the U.S. bishops and the president-elect of Catholic Charities USA in two letters to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, April 14.
“Rigid sentencing policies for non-violent offenses are costly, ineffective and can be detrimental to the good of persons, families and communities. Prolonged incarceration contributes to family instability and poverty,” wrote Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Dominican Sister Donna Markham in their letter to Senators Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy, supporting the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 (S. 502/H.R. 920).
The bill would expand judicial sentencing options for non-violent drug offenses, permit certain drug offenders to seek sentence reductions, and promote recidivism reduction programs.
Archbishop Wenski and Sister Markham also voiced support for the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Tax-payers in Our National System Act of 2015 (CORRECTIONS Act, S.467), which promotes recidivism reduction by requiring lower-risk prisoners to participate in re-entry training programs with faith-based, community and non-profit organizations in order to earn up to 25 percent of their sentences.
“While these proposals are modest, they highlight the long overdue need in our country to reform our broken criminal justice system,” said Archbishop Wenski.
On the Net:
The Smarter Sentencing Act letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-justice-restorative-justice/usccb-ccusa-letter-to-senate-judiciary-on-smarter-sentencing-act-2015-04-14.cfm
The CORRECTIONS Act letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-justice-restorative-justice/usccb-ccusa-letter-to-senate-judiciary-on-corrections-act-2015-04-14.cfm