A Legal Action Center Public Policy Priority

Legal Action Center is advocating for passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015

Each year, over 11 million people cycle through our nation’s jails and over 600,000 people return home from prison, roughly the same population as Louisville or Milwaukee. Over 70 million Americans, or one in three adults, have an arrest or conviction record. For many of them, criminal justice involvement is related to a substance use disorder. Reforms to expand alternatives to incarceration, reduce sentences and mass incarceration and improve health and reduce barriers for people in the justice system are critically needed.

Passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would make progress toward a broad range of the reforms supported by Legal Action Center. The Act would take significant steps to make our criminal justice system more fair and better at improving public safety and health outcomes. Among many important criminal justice reforms, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would:

  • Reduce the number of offenses (including several drug-related offenses) that would trigger mandatory minimum sentences and also reduce the required length of time of the sentence (including for people who have been convicted of past crimes);
  • Make additional people (including people who have been convicted of certain drug-related crimes) eligible for the “safety valve” that allows judges in certain circumstances to issue a sentence that is shorter in duration than the mandatory minimum sentence otherwise required for that offense
  • Allow the earning of good-time credits for activities including academic classes, occupational and vocational training, and recovery programming (including appropriate medication-assisted treatment) for people with addiction histories
  • Allow for expungement and sealing of certain types of juvenile records; the bill would also establish processes for automatic expungement and sealing of certain juvenile nonviolent offenses
  • Promote greater use of residential substance use disorder treatment through the federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Authorize a pilot program aimed at reducing recidivism and helping more people enter recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs
  • Authorize reentry demonstration projects which could include substance use disorder treatment services, including, if appropriate, addiction treatment medication, mental health treatment, occupational, vocational, and educational training, apprenticeships, recovery support and other types of programming to promote effective reintegration into the community
  • Expand the use of pre-release custody for certain individuals
  • Allow courts to reduce a term of imprisonment for certain people who were convicted as adults for a crime committed before age 18 and have served 20 years in prison
  • Expand the use compassionate release for older incarcerated adults
  • Seek to improve the accuracy of federal criminal records

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 Sentencing Reform and Corrections 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 Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.
  • Use our sample Tweets or create your own to spread the word and show your support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act and its co-sponsors.
  • Support our work to pass the  Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in the Senate, S. 2123

Do you want to know more about the Senate version of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act? Click here.

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in the House

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act has not been introduced in the House of Representatives, but parts of this legislation have been introduced in the REDEEM ActCORRECTIONS Act, and SAFE Justice Act, which LAC also supports.

Sample Tweets and Talking Points

Sample Tweets

I support of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act bc federal #cjreform is good for families & communities. https://lac.org/?p=5967

I support of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act bc mass incarceration is inhumane. #justicereform. https://lac.org/?p=5967

 saves money, improves health and safety. I support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. 

Sample Talking Points

  • Policymakers seek to enact reforms that will reduce mass incarceration and its associated costs while improving public safety and community well-being.
  • The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act provides a package of common-sense reforms to the federal criminal justice system that will restore fairness and sanity to a system growing out of control.
  • Provisions in the bill will reduce mass incarceration and expand access and participation in programs and treatments that reduce recidivism and improve health.
  • Congress should pass needed criminal justice reforms now, starting by passing the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.

For more information or media inquiries

Mark O’Brien, Senior Criminal Justice Policy Associate

[email protected]

(202)544-5478

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