End Prison-Crowding Minimum Jail Sentences


Target: Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council

Goal: Applaud a conservative nonprofit organization for proposing a bill to get rid of mandatory minimum jail sentences.

Mandatory minimum jail sentences have contributed greatly to overcrowding in US prisons nationwide and have cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually. These draconian laws give offenders of a certain category an automatic minimum amount of years behind bars. As a result, a non-violent petty drug offender could get a prison sentence worthy of a convicted drug kingpin.

This could soon change thanks to a bipartisan bill introduced by an unlikely conservative nonprofit organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council. They initially supported mandatory minimum sentences, along with other controversial incarceration laws. They also drafted an infamous law, adopted by many states, that requires inmates to serve out at least 85% of their sentences regardless of good behavior or signs of rehabilitation.

However, this newest bill is an indication of  a welcome reversal of position. The proposed bill, modeled after the “Justice Safety Valve Act,” is now making its way into Congress. If passed this law will give judges the authority to sentence low risk offenders to a lesser sentence below the mandatory minimum. Instead of handing out blanket sentences, judges are allowed to use their own discretion by considering other variables like whether or not the offender is a low or high level criminal. As a result, overcrowded prisons will be alleviated, less valuable taxpayer’s dollars will be expended, and prisoners will live in a more humane setting.

Sign this petition to thank the American Legislative Exchange Council for taking the initiative in reversing this draconian law and urge them to reverse their support of other counter-intuitive criminal justice laws.


Dear Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council,

Thank you for reversing your stance on mandatory minimum sentences. It is a common sense solution that should garner support from both sides of the political spectrum. This proposal comes at a timely manner because states like California are experiencing crisis level prison population numbers. It is cruel and unusual punishment to give non violent offenders absurd sentences simply because they fall into a certain general category without any regard of other factors like criminal history, background, etc. It is equally cruel to degrade inmate living conditions by overcrowding the prisons with people that do not deserve more time in prison. This potential reform will also provide long term relief to a rapidly increasing expenditure on the nation’s prisons. The “prison industrial complex” is simply unsustainable, and it is ludicrous to spend billions of dollars to keep low risk offenders incarcerated for decades. Taxpayers’ dollars are better served by allocating them in more deficient and crucial sectors like education.

Please continue your efforts in reforming our criminal justice system with common sense solutions.


[Your Name Here]

Image Credit:  amandabhslater via Flickr

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177 Signatures

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