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.
- 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
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.
|Number||Date||Name||Organization||Location||Do you have any additional ...|
|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|