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After decades of "get tough" rhetoric, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are finally coming together to say “enough.” 

In recent months, bold leaders have come together from both parties to craft legislation to reform the way we address federal nonviolent drug offenses. 

The Smarter Sentencing Act, introduced with bipartisan support in both the Senate (S. 1401) and the House (H.R. 3382), takes two significant steps forward on sentencing reform.  First, it reduces overly harsh penalties for drug offenses and allows judges greater flexibility in sentencing.  Second, it extends the more equitable crack cocaine provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act retroactively to individuals serving prison terms under the now discredited 100-to-1 sentencing disparity – a disparity that has had a devastating impact on African American communities. 

With the Smarter Sentencing Act, lawmakers are recognizing what practitioners, advocates, and scholars have long understood:  that ever increasing criminal penalties are not an effective way to keep Americans safe. 

Urge your elected representatives in Congress to support the Smarter Sentencing Act today. 



Urge Your Member of Congress to Take Smart Steps to Reduce Prison Costs

Because Congress and the Obama Administration failed to act, deep automatic spending cuts known as sequestration are beginning to take effect.  While these cuts could have harmful consequences for our criminal justice system, they also present an opportunity for reform.  Rather than slashing federal prison programs -- such as drug treatment and job training -- that reduce long-term costs, a number of administrative and legislative options are available that could more effectively address our budget challenges while ensuring public safety.  Congress should prioritize evidence-based policies and programs that would reduce long-term prison costs.  

Tell your Member that now is the time to be smart on crime.

Take Action

Take Action in Texas: Urge Lawmakers to Close the Dawson State Jail

The Sentencing Project in partnership with Grassroots Leadership released the report, Dawson State Jail: The Case for Closure.  The report lays out why and how the state of Texas should close Dawson State Jail.  The Sentencing Project is an active member of a broad coalition of civil rights, faith, labor, and prisoner rights organizations including groups that represent prisoner's families and those that work in correctional facilities.

Take Action: Eliminate State Crack Sentencing Disparities

Today, 12 states maintain sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. Please help us urge state lawmakers to prioritize and adopt needed reforms to eliminate sentencing disparities and lessen  penalties for low-level crack cocaine offenses.

Take Action in New Hampshire: The Sentencing Project Supports Two Good Bills

The Sentencing Project welcomed the introduction of bills in New Hampshire that authorized earned time release for certain eligible prisoners and would limit the ability of the state to contract with private prison companies.

Read The Sentencing Project's letter in support of limiting private prisons here.

Read The Sentencing Project's letter in support of earned time here

Share Your Story: Did You Receive a Mandatory Minimum Sentence?

Were you or a loved one sentenced to serve a mandatory minimum? We know that people come in contact with the criminal justice for many reasons.  Please share your story with us by emailing advocacy@sentencingproject.org

Urge Congress to Eliminate Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws -- which require automatic prison sentences, regardless of the circumstances of the case -- drive our skyrocketing incarceration rates and result in racial disparities.  Urge your elected representatives in Congress to eliminate “one size fits all" mandatory minimum sentences that allow little consideration for individual characteristics and result in unfair sentences, particularly for people of color. 

Take Action in Michigan: Tell your state representative to oppose prison privatization

The Sentencing Project and a group of national and state organizations have sent a letter to the Michigan House of Representative's Appropriations Committee urging lawmakers to vote against efforts to reintroduce private prisons. Michigan previously contracted with a private prison company, but ended the contract in 2005 after the facility was found to cost more than most of the state's publicly operated prisons, while not providing the contractually required levels of service. Similar results have been found in studies looking at prison privatzation on both the federal and state level.

Take Action

Take Action in Florida: Tell Your State Senator to Oppose Private Prisons

The Sentencing Project and a group of national and state organizations have sent a letter to the Florida Senate urging lawmakers to vote against efforts to expand private prisons as a cost-savings measure. A number of states have chosen an alternative approach by reducing corrections populations and avoiding spending limited resources on new prisons without  threatening public safety.  Florida should do the same.

Take Action

Tell Congress to Support Reentry, Not More Prisons (The Sentencing Project)

In September the U.S. Senate's Committee on Appropriations approved a bill that would eliminate funding for the Second Chance Act, which provides resources to nonprofits, states and local government to aid people reentering communities after incarceration. Instead, the bill would add $300 million to the federal Bureau of Prisons's $6 billion budget to help kick off a prison building campaign for 7 new prisons in 4 years. This policy will continue a cycle of increasing incarceration and racial disparity that is very difficult to undo.

It is important that Congress knows that building more prisons does not solve our crime problems and there are better alternatives to addressing prison overcrowding.  Ask your representatives in Congress to support the Second Chance Act, rather than prison expansion.