A Legal Action Center Public Policy Priority

Legal Action Center is advocating for passage of the SAFE Justice Act of 2016

Federal and state criminal justice systems have recorded sharp increases in imprisonment and associated costs over the past 30 years. During the past decade, the states have responded by reducing their imprisonment rate by 4 percent while federal imprisonment continued to increase another 15 percent. The state drop was driven in large part by comprehensive reform efforts in more than two dozen states designed to protect public safety while containing costs and preventing further growth in the prison system.

The Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act would apply lessons from these states to the federal criminal justice system. Among many important criminal justice reforms, the SAFE Justice Act would :

  • Increase the use of  Alternatives to Incarceration by expanding eligibility for pre-judgment probation, promoting greater use of probation for low-level offenders, and encouraging judicial districts to operate problem-solving courts like drug courts and veterans’ courts;
  • Improve reentry outcomes and reduce federal prison sentences by providing sentence credits for people incarcerated in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) who participate in case planning and recidivism reduction programs;
  • Authorize the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), like methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol, for the treatment of heroin and opioid dependence in BOP residential substance use treatment programs;
  • Recognize that addiction is a disease that can lead to relapse by eliminating automatic imprisonment for people with certain drug-related violations of federal probation requirements.

Get Involved!

You can help get Congress to pass this critical legislation. Here’s how:

  • Contact your members of Congress and let them know you support the SAFE Justice Act and hope they will support it too by co-sponsoring and actively pushing for its passage.
  • Use our sample talking points to tell people, policymakers, and members of the press why you support the SAFE Justice Act.
  • Use our sample Tweets or create your own to spread the word and show your support for the SAFE Justice Act and its co-sponsors.
  • Support our work to pass the  SAFE Justice Act of 2015.


SAFE Justice Act in the House, H.R. 2944

Do you want to know more about the House version of the SAFE Justice Act? Click here. 


Sample Tweets and Talking Points


Sample Tweets

Thank you @JimPressOffice, @RepBobbyScott, for introducing the #SAFEJusticeAct, #cjreform of federal justice system. http://ow.ly/Peuhw

I stand with @lac_news in support of the #SAFEJusitceAct bc federal #cjreform is good for families & communities. http://ow.ly/Peuhw

I stand with @lac_news in support of the #SAFEJusticeAct bc mass incarceration is inhumane. #cjreform. http://ow.ly/Peuhw

I stand with @lac_news in support of the #SAFEJusticeAct bc I support #cjreform that is proven to work. http://ow.ly/Peuhw

Pass the #SAFEJusticeAct to make sure proven addiction medications are available to people in prison. #MAT #cjreform. http://ow.ly/Peuhw


Sample Talking Points

  • Since 1980, the federal government has added an estimated 2,000 new crimes to the books, while the federal imprisonment rate has grown by an astounding 518 percent.
  • During the same period, annual spending on the federal prison system rose 595 percent, from $970 million to more than $6.7 billion, after adjusting for inflation.
  • State criminal justice reforms have returned significant dividends. From Texas, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island to Georgia, South Carolina, and New York, 32 states have reduced their crime and imprisonment rates over the past five years. Cumulative cost savings exceed $4.6 billion, and millions of these dollars have been reinvested in prison alternatives that are better at breaking the cycle of recidivism.
  • The time is now to reform America’s federal criminal justice system by implementing the lessons from these states.
  • The SAFE Justice Act would implement evidence-based criminal justice reforms that hold people accountable without causing more harm than good, including expanding the use of Alternatives to Incarceration, promoting successful reentry, and eliminating automatic incarceration for drug-related probation violations.
  • The SAFE Justice Act would permit the federal Bureau of Prisons to use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol. These medications have been  approved by the FDA and proven effective for treating heroin and opioid addiction.


For more information or media inquiries

Mark O’Brien, Senior Criminal Justice Policy Associate

[email protected]


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