National Issues and Legislation

ADVOCACY ALERT

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WHY SUPPORT JUSTICE REFORM?

NATIONAL ISSUES AND LEGISLATION

The federal prison system is larger than any state prison system in the country and faces some unique and pressing challenges. Despite recent reductions, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has experienced a more than seven-fold increase in its population in the past four decades. This population increase comes at a cost of $7 billion and has also resulted in overcrowding, particularly in medium and high security facilities.

Much of the responsibility for the increased federal prison population belongs to "tough on crime" legislation which eliminated federal parole, reduced "good time" credits, and transferred sentencing discretion from the judiciary to Congress.

New legislation before Congress offers hope for restoring proportionate punishment and building a more constructive prison culture. Not only will these changes help prisoners prepare to be better neighbors, but they will also help reduce prison overcrowding and costs. But even with broad, bipartisan support, there is a need for advocates like you to ensure that these bills become law.

Join Prison Fellowship as we work for a federal justice system that is both just and restorative.

COST FACTS

  • From FY 1980 to FY 2010, there has been a total increase of approximately 1,700% of in the Bureau of Prisons Budget.
  • The Bureau of Prisons budget now swallows more than a quarter of the Department of Justice funds, squeezing funds from investigation and crime prevention efforts.

FEDERAL PRISONER POPULATION STATISTICS

196,850

Prisoners in custody within the
Bureau of Prisons

50%

Of prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

10%

Of prisoners are incarcerated for immigration offenses

93%*

Of prisoners are male. *Approximately

PRISON OVERCROWDING STATISTICS

Since 1980, the number of federal prisoners has grown by over 700%, while the U.S. population has only grown by slightly more than 32%. Many prisons are now operating over capacity...

26%

OVER CAPACITY
Federal Bureau of Prisons

47%

OVER CAPACITY
High security facilities

51%

OVER CAPACITY
Medium security facilities

PROPORTIONATE PUNISHMENT

A basic principle of the American justice system is that any punishment should "fit" the harm caused. Too often, this is not the case. Prison Fellowship seeks a restorative approach to punishment where those harmed by crime are allowed to be a part of the process, those who offended are given a chance to make amends, and men and women are not incarcerated for longer than the wrongs committed would warrant.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act seeks to ensure that punishments are proportionate.  By reducing mandatory minimums in some cases, and granting judges more flexibility in sentencing, the proposed changes will make the criminal justice system more efficient, more effective, and more fair.

CONSTRUCTIVE PRISON CULTURE

Restorative justice seeks to do more than warehouse people convicted of crimes. An effective prison is one where the humanity of every prisoner is respected, where transformation is expected, and good citizenship is encouraged. Providing men and women with a path to restoration while behind bars makes prisons safer, and helps to unlock their potential.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act proposes changes to the prison culture, offering recidivism reduction programs and productive activities to eligible prisoners, initiating risk and needs assessment for men and women entering prison, and eliminates solitary confinement for juveniles in most cases.  To find out more about the bill, and how you can help, click here.

RESTORED COMMUNITIES

Crime doesn't just affect the perpetrators and victims, it also injures the community. A restorative justice approach considers these harms and engages communities in solutions, promoting safety by using proven crime reduction practices and using community education and participation in solutions, and encouraging former prisoners to make a positive contribution to their neighborhoods.

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act provides resources for reentry programming on the state and local levels, offering mentoring and family-based substance abuse treatment opportunities. And the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act affirms the value and dignity of prisoners suffering from mental illness, and seeks to provide accountability along with the care and support their conditions demand.

ISSUES IN YOUR STATE

What are the criminal justice issues where you live? Learn about pending legislation, and find out what you can do to bring about reforms in your state.

MEET OUR POLICY TEAM

Prison Fellowship's advocacy team works to bring about meaningful change on both the federal and state level. Learn more about our team, and their work promoting restorative justice principles.

HELP ADVOCATE FOR JUSTICE THAT RESTORES

Please join our growing network of individuals, advocates and organizations that are working together to reform the criminal justice system in America according to the Biblical principles of restorative justice.