February 8, 2016
On Tuesday, October 15, JCPA adopted a policy on Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform that urges a shift from punitive prohibitionist policies and toward sensible regulatory policies that advance public safety and health. The policy calls for reformation of marijuana laws which are disproportionately enforced against minorities, causing significant fiscal and social costs including the deepening of racial division. Redirecting the focus of our law enforcement systems away from minor drug offenses would free up resources to combat more serious and dangerous crimes, resulting in improved public safety, reduced perceptions among minority communities that the system is biased against them, and a fairer and more effective criminal justice system.
On Monday, October 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S.2123). The hearing is a landmark step forward towards meaningful criminal justice sentencing reform to enhance reentry programs for nonviolent offenders to reduce risk of recidivism, give judges greater discretion to sentence certain low level offenders to less than a 10-year mandatory minimum, create new mandatory minimums for interstate domestic violence, apply the Fair Sentencing Act and certain sentencing reforms retroactively, and, importantly, expunge records of juveniles convicted for nonviolent offences. Nine of the 11 cosponsors, including the original sponsor of the legislation, Senator Grassley (R-IA), sit on the Senate Judiciary committee. The legislation has been lauded from advocates across the political spectrum. This Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will markup the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S.2123), hoping to advance the measure to the floor for a vote this year or early next year.