Smarter Sentencing Act Interfaith Letter for Clergy and Faith Leaders

Scripture commands “Justice, and only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20).  For too long Congress has ignored the consequences of the harsh sentencing policies it approved during the 1980s and the disproportionate harm it has caused people of color and those convicted of low-level offenses.

The Smarter Sentencing Act is a step towards addressing racial injustice as well as reducing the mass incarceration that characterizes our current justice system. We welcome all clergy and faith leaders to join the call to Congress to act justly by supporting the Smarter Sentencing Act.

Signers include:

  • Rev. Gregory Boyle, SJ Founder and Executive Director, Homeboy Industries
  • J. Ron Byler, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee, Washington, D.C. office
  • Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director for NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
  • Bishop Sally Dyck, United Methodist Church
  • Bishop Grant Hagiya, United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary for the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
  • Bishop Peggy Johnson, United Methodist Church
  • Sr. Ellen Kelly, RGS, Province Leader, Province of New York
  • Rev. Michael Kennedy, SJ, Executive Director, Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative
  • Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together
  • Sr. Mary Catherine Massei, RGS, Province Leader, Province of Mid-North America
  • Bishop William McAlilly, United Methodist Church
  • Bishop Mike McKee, United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary for American Baptist Churches USA
  • Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church, USA, Office of Public Witness
  • Bishop Gregory Palmer, United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  • Rev. Dr. David Schuringa, President, Crossroads Bible Institute
  • V. Rev. Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, President, U.S. Jesuit Conference
  • Sandy Sorenson, Director, Washington Office, United Church of Christ, Justice & Witness Ministries
  • Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  • Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners
  • Jim Winkler, President, National Council of Churches, USA

Dear Senator/Representative:

As clergy and faith leaders from a diversity of beliefs, we all believe in the inherent dignity of all people. We believe the criminal justice system should treat people, regardless of their offense, justly and humanely. We call on you to uphold these principles by supporting the Smarter Sentencing Act, S. 1410/H.R. 3382.

Nearly 30 years ago, Congress passed legislation creating excessive mandatory minimum penalties for many low-level and non-violent drug offenses. The result was a dramatic increase in the federal prison population that is both expensive and counterproductive. Today over 216,000 men and women are warehoused in over-crowded federal institutions, families are split apart, lives have been wasted, and drug abuse and addiction continues to plague our communities.

A national conversation has begun to address the nationwide incarceration crisis and change in state sentencing policy has resulted. In the last decade, 17 states around the country reduced their incarceration rates and saw continued declines in crime rates. It is now time for Congress to act.

The Smarter Sentencing Act is an incremental approach to reduce the mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of low-level and non-violent drug offenses. The bill would also apply the bipartisan 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which lowered sentences for the lowest level cases involving crack cocaine, to people currently in prison under the old sentencing structure. About 8,800 people, with 88% of them being African American, would be eligible to apply to a judge for a sentence reduction. The legislation also slightly expands the federal “safety valve” exception, allowing judges to sentence below a drug mandatory minimum if numerous mitigating qualifications are met.

For too long Congress has ignored the consequences of the harsh sentencing policies it approved during the 1980s and the disproportionate harm it has caused people of color and those convicted of low-level offenses. We are reminded that Scripture commands us, “Justice, and only justice shall you pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20) The Smarter Sentencing Act is a step towards addressing racial injustice as well as reducing mass incarceration that characterizes our current justice system.

Passage of this legislation can help bring relief to members of our congregations and faith communities and we strongly urge you to pursue justice and to support the Smarter Sentencing Act.
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1-25 of 1300 signatures
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1300 Mon Mar 30 21:48:31 EDT 2015 michael fuchs St.Francis knightdale, NC
1299 Wed Mar 25 14:00:39 EDT 2015 Robert Odum Central UMC Milwaukee , WI
1298 Tue Mar 17 22:18:47 EDT 2015 F. Jay Deacon Channing Memorial Church Middletown, RI
1297 Mon Mar 16 23:23:43 EDT 2015 Rodney Carter None Orem, UT
1296 Wed Mar 11 22:40:45 EDT 2015 Todd Martinsen Zion United Methodist Church Partlow , VA
1295 Tue Mar 10 13:52:04 EDT 2015 Anonymous Odessa, TX
1294 Tue Jan 27 22:52:03 EST 2015 marie luczyk uu of whidbey island freeland, WA
1293 Tue Jan 27 22:14:04 EST 2015 Mary Goolsby UUCWI Langley, WA
1292 Mon Jan 19 23:23:13 EST 2015 Angelica Acevedo North Parish, North Andover, MA Haverhill, MA
1291 Mon Jan 19 23:16:24 EST 2015 Leia Acevedo North Parish, North Andover, MA Haverhill, MA
1290 Mon Jan 19 07:29:55 EST 2015 Anonymous Lexington, KY
1289 Wed Jan 14 16:35:14 EST 2015 Patience Stoddard UU Congregation Norwich VT Alstead, NH
1288 Fri Jan 09 19:20:53 EST 2015 Juanita A. Cruz U U A C Grayslake, IL What Michelle Alexander shared is pivotal to the genuine growth of our fledging democracy - spiritually, morally and ethically . and



The survival through continual scientific More....
1287 Thu Jan 08 09:54:50 EST 2015 JEFFREY KELLEY UMC CONWAY, AR
1286 Wed Dec 31 12:27:54 EST 2014 Rachel Harper Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church The woodlands, TX
1285 Tue Dec 30 16:37:58 EST 2014 Mary Wallace First Parish Brewster Brewster, MA Freedom for all of us is tied to this kind of Justice.
1284 Tue Dec 30 00:24:34 EST 2014 Thomas Curtis Couontryside Unitarian Universalist Church Rolling Meadows, IL
1283 Wed Dec 24 16:14:38 EST 2014 Frank Trotter United Methodist Church Towson, MD
1282 Wed Dec 24 16:14:21 EST 2014 Frank Trotter United Methodist Church Towson, MD
1281 Tue Dec 16 02:38:00 EST 2014 Peter Wilson Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Santa Rosa Sebastopol, CA
1280 Mon Dec 01 10:31:35 EST 2014 Mary Ransom MDOC/CMCF Jackson, MS How can I get my Church and City involved in reading this information?
1279 Sat Nov 22 17:57:56 EST 2014 Laura Shennum Cascade UU Fellowship East Wenatchee, WA
1278 Wed Nov 19 15:51:08 EST 2014 Warren Brackmann Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahasee Cairo, GA
1277 Sat Nov 08 18:11:56 EST 2014 Angel Jacklyn Self White Lake, MI
1276 Tue Nov 04 10:47:30 EST 2014 Nance Hixon Grace United Methodist Church Natchez, MS
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