An eclectic group of political people gathered on Thursday to introduce various criminal justice reform legislation in the House of Representatives.

Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) and Bobby Scott (D., Va.) joined representatives from Koch Industries, the NAACP, the ACLU, American Conservative Union, the Pew Charitable Trusts and others, to introduce the Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective Justice Act (SAFE). The objective is to reduce use of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders, which is a forward motion for lowering the number of non-violent people in prison.

There is empirical evidence proving the presence of over-incarceration and over-criminalization in America. And, most individuals, when released from the prison industrial complex, suffer from collateral consequences. These are not direct penalties like fines, probation, or incarceration. It relates to indirect events like ineligibility of student and business loans, public funding, exposure to job placement discrimination, loss of voting rights, and other areas, making it difficult to be societal contributors. Plus, high imprisonment levels result in skyrocketing recidivism rates, which produce wasteful taxpayer spending and misuse of human resources.

Over the pass few years, legislators have introduced the Corrections Act, which allows some inmates to earn time off their sentences while in prison. Further, there was the Smarter Sentencing Act that cut congressionally mandated minimum sentences.

Political Groups Gather At House Of Representatives For Criminal Justice Reform
By kingstonIFWT

The SAFE bill presents a set of reforms to encourage use of sentencing alternatives such as probation for lower-level and non-violent offenders. Not to mention, it focuses on expanding prison space by releasing older and terminally ill offenders. Moreover, it enhances the earned-time policies, allowing more inmates to participate in programs.

Here are some statistics from the past that have worsened over the years:

*Between 1994 and 2002, the average time served by African Americans for a drug offense
increased by 73%, compared to an increase of 28% for white drug offenders.

*In 1994, African Americans served an average of 33.1 months for a drug offense; this grew
to 57.2 months by 2002.

*From 1992 to 2002, the average time served in prison for a drug offense increased by 31%
from 32.7 months to 42.9 months.

*The average sentence for a crack cocaine offense in 2002 (119 months) was more than three
years greater than for powder cocaine (78 months).

*81.4% of crack cocaine defendants in 2002 were African American, while about two-thirds
of crack cocaine users in the general population are white or Hispanic.

It would be quite cost-effective if the federal government employ more mitigating recidivism methods such as drug abuse treatment and re-examining sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Evaluation of long-term sentencing and producing more productive community members are among core focuses that would improve our imprisonment issue in America.

The United States makes up 20%-25 of all incarcerated individuals in the world.