Target: Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Goal: Release inmates on parole who were originally sentenced under unjust mandatory minimum laws.
U.S. prisons are becoming overcrowded to the point of being cruel due in large part to mandatory minimum laws. Mandatory minimum sentences are a required set of time that alleged offenders are sentenced to for specific criminal activities set by Congress. These sentences do not take into account any of the mitigating factors of the criminal activity, nor do they allow for judges to be in control of the sentencing they find just. Furthermore, these sentences tend to be extremely long, especially for nonviolent offenders, making the inmates a drain on the nation’s and states’ resources.
One of the greatest problems involved in mandatory minimum sentencing is the fact that the prison population has dramatically increased. Since 1980, the advent of mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent, drug related crimes, the prison population has quadrupled. However, the capacity of the correctional facilities in the United States has not. For example, the state of California had a correctional capacity of less than 83 thousand inmates, and an inmate population of nearly double that ten years ago. Five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the level of overcrowding in the California facilities amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in the case of Brown v. Plata.
Since the ruling of Brown v. Plata, the state of California has begun to release nonviolent drug offenders who were unjustly served mandatory minimum sentences, offenders who were allegedly involved in violent crimes but were under the age of 23 at the time of the offense, and various others. Typically, the rate of recidivism of prison inmates is around 53 percent. However, for inmates paroled from life sentences, the rate of recidivism is under two percent, according to the Los Angeles Times. If anything, these findings demonstrate the capacity of inmates to be reformed, which should truly demonstrate the unfairness of keeping these inmates behind bars.
Sign the petition below to demand that the United States Congress release federal prisoners held on unjust mandatory minimum sentence laws. Every individual deserves the right to a fair due process and fair sentencing, and the previous mandatory minimum sentences must be amended.
Dear Speaker Ryan,
The United States Supreme Court determined that serving time in overloaded prisons is cruel and unusual punishment. However, one in 100 people in the United States is currently serving time. The prison population has exploded since the advent of mandatory minimums, especially for nonviolent drug-related criminal offenses. Not only were these offenders unjustly sentenced, but they are currently a drain on the taxpayer when they could be contributing to the economy.
The state of California has begun to release detainees for life sentences on parole in certain cases where the sentencing was reconsidered as unfair. Even though the rate of recidivism of inmates is about 53 percent, the rate of life-sentence parolees is less than two percent, which demonstrates the fact that these inmates are not only capable of being rehabilitated, but they can also become responsible economic and social contributors to the community.
I am urging you to reconsider sentences of federal and state prisoners across the nation. Please take action to enforce policies that provide all accused persons with the right to further consideration of previous unjust sentences.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Succo