Justice Reform Advocates Seek Place In Political Parties’ Platforms

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June 27, 2016 09:06:52 am

A coalition of civil rights groups pushing for criminal justice reform is pressuring both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee to include the issue in their party platforms, Politico reports. The organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the Urban League and the Brennan Center for Justice, argue that after decades of pushing tougher crime laws, both Democrats and the GOP need a “bold break” toward policies aiming at easing incarceration rates. “As you convene to set your respective policy agenda, we urge you to include reducing mass incarceration, while increasing public safety, as part of your party platforms,” the groups wrote to the party chairs and platform committee leaders.

Among the policies advocated by the justice reform groups: Revising sentencing laws so the “punishment is proportional to the crime and no longer than necessary to achieve rehabilitation and deterrence,” helping to reduce recidivism by promoting job training and educational programs for former inmates, and using federal funds to reward states for policies that reduce both the prison population and crime rates. Both President Obama and some key congressional leaders have said they want to pass legislation overhauling sentencing laws and other prison reforms this year. The issue has also been a divisive one, particularly within the Senate Republican Conference, and its prospects are growing dimmer. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas indicated that the House would have to move first on criminal justice legislation. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wi.) has indicated he wants to move on the issue, but has not indicated any schedule.

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