End Minimum Sentencing Requirements for Non-violent Drug Offenses

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The U.S. justice system presides over more than 7 million people, approximately 2.38 million of whom are imprisoned at the local, state, or federal level along with another 4.62 million people who are currently on probation or parole.

This is due to a system of mass incarceration that has long been the norm in the American criminal justice system. Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, defines mass incarceration as the extremely high rate of imprisonment currently seen throughout the U.S that is perpetuated through harsh punishments for nonviolent crimes.

This system of mass incarceration began to take shape with the policies that created the War on Drugs as politicians enacted harsh penalties for minor crimes to appear as being tough on crime. The ACLU finds that “drug arrests now account for a quarter of the people locked up in America, but drug use rates have remained steady,” which shows that current policies simply do not work.

Along with being an ineffective deterrent to crime, mass incarceration in the United States negatively impacts children by imprisoning parents and creates a cycle of imprisonment that is fueled by high recidivism rates in minority communities. 

Ultimately, reforming this system of mass incarceration is the key to creating stable communities that decrease the number of people returning to prison and improve the lives of those most severely impacted by the cycle of imprisonment.

This petition is being sent to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. They handle the proposals put forth for changes to the federal court system and are thus is in the best position to end minimum sentencing requirements for nonviolent drug offenses.



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