The legislation has been named by some as the biggest criminal justice reform bill in this generation. With wide bipartisan support, the act would reform mandatory minimum sentencing, to allow greater judicial discretion in sentencing, and reduce mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenses, while promoting in-prison programs to reduce recidivism.
Reporter Garrett Haake interviewed both Wiese and DeRoche about the barriers they’ve faced in reintegrating into society since serving their sentences. Wiese served a nearly 8-year term in Iowa for a bank robbery he committed when he was 21. Prior to becoming the director of Prison Fellowship’s Second Prison Project, Wiese earned his bachelor’s degree, then a Juris Doctorate. And despite passing the Virginia bar exam, Wiese has been denied by the Virginia Bar Association to practice law.
“After people finish their criminal punishment or their sentence in this country, we never really let them go and they’re ultimately living in a second prison in the United States,” Wiese said in the interview.
Haake also interviewed DeRoche, the former speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives and now the director of Prison Fellowship’s advocacy arm, who has faced his own challenges, after serving a sentence for an alcohol-related offense.
“I think that the problem of denying people second chances in trying to punish our way out of America’s biggest problems failed,” said DeRoche.
The bill currently waits in the Senate.
Click here to watch the video.