‘Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society is among 40 faith organizations that sent a letter this week to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary supporting the “Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act” (S. 2123).

These harsh penalties are often unwarranted.

The letter, addressed to Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), thanked them and their colleagues for “leadership and hard work to reach consensus on legislation that would reduce harsh sentences and end the unjust incarceration of many thousands of men and women in federal prisons.”

Mandatory minimum sentences have contributed to an overwhelming increase in the federal prison population since 1980, according to the letter. “These harsh penalties are often unwarranted, particularly for low-level drug offenses, exacerbate racial disparities and perpetuate dangerous prison overcrowding,” the letter states.

Important step

The 40 faith organizations say they believe S. 2123 is an important step toward fixing the federal prison crisis. They express gratitude for the senators nurturing the political cooperation needed to address what they describe as an “often intractable problem.”

The letter says that S. 2123’s provisions to limit federal life sentences for youths and adults are particularly commendable, and “consistent with a respect for human dignity,” as are its provisions to end solitary confinement for youths.

Other endorsers of the letter include National Council of Churches, Bread for the World, African Methodist Episcopal Church – Social Action Commission, the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, American Friends Service Committee, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Network (National Catholic Social Justice Lobby), Presbyterian Church (USA), Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries, and Sojourners.

The letter can be read in its entirety, including endorsers, at Letter supporting S. 2123.

Letter to the Editor