criminal justice reform

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U.S.: President Obama Grants Clemency To 46; Will Push For Criminal Justice Reform

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Obama to Address Mass Incarceration at NAACP Convention Tuesday and Become First President to Visit a Prison on Thursday

"I believe at its heart, America is a land of second chances." ~ President Barack Obama

Drug Policy Alliance: We Can’t End Mass Incarceration Until We End Drug War

President Barack Obama on Monday commuted the sentences of 46 people incarcerated in federal prison. This follows the commutation of eight people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses in December of 2014, and 22 in March 2015. Fourteen of the people who received commutations on Monday were serving life in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

In taking this step, the President has now issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug law violations under draconian sentencing laws. President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"We can’t end mass incarceration until we end the drug war. The President's actions today are welcome, but we need much more action," said Michael Collins, policy manager at DPA's office of national affairs. "The public overwhelmingly supports ending the drug war and letting states decide their own drug policies. It's long past time to rectify the US's embarrassing record on mass incarceration."

U.S.: Hillary Clinton Calls For End To 'Era of Mass Incarceration'

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2016 Presidential Candidates United on Need for Major Criminal Justice Reforms

From Rand Paul to Hillary Clinton, Candidates Seek to Reduce Number of People Behind Bars

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday became the latest Presidential candidate to embrace criminal justice reform. In her first major policy speech since announcing her candidacy, Clinton called for an end to the “era of mass incarceration.”

“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison in their lifetimes, and an estimated 1.5 million black men are ‘missing’ from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death,” Clinton said. “The consequences are profound. … It’s time to change our approach,” she added, citing the fact that 1 out of every 28 American children have a parent locked up behind bars.

“The fact that the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president chose the subject of mass incarceration as the focus of her first major policy address since she announced her candidacy is of great significance politically,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Action. “So is the fact that all of the other Democratic candidates and most of the Republican ones agree that something needs to be done to reduce incarceration in our country.”

Colorado: Sensible Asset Forfeiture Proposal Fails In Senate

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Advocates Reminded of the Often Undeserved Sway of Law Enforcement

This week an asset forfeiture reform proposal died in Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 006 aimed to join other states and the recent federal effort to curb the intrusive, arguably unconstitutional and financially distorted incentive practice of civil asset forfeiture.

State law provides people due process protections from state authorities seizing their property. However, local and state police often circumvent state law by turning seized assets over to federal authorities who then liquidate those assets and return the proceeds to local law enforcement.

SB 006 would have provided constitutional protections in the case of joint state and federal asset forfeiture proceedings -- requiring a conviction, mandating a pre-trial hearing and only allowing forfeiture proceedings for assets valued over $50,000. The bill attempted to deter frivolous and subjective forfeiture efforts by law enforcement.

The Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and many local lawyers, victims and like-minded civilians testified in favor of the bill.

U.S.: Senators To Introduce Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reform Bill

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REDEEM Act Helps Formerly Incarcerated Seal Conviction Records, Eliminates Barriers to Employment, Public Assistance, and Re-Entry

Drug Policy Alliance: Criminal Justice Reform is Good Policy and Good Politics

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday will introduce the REDEEM Act, groundbreaking bipartisan legislation that makes it easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to reintegrate into society and provides greater rights to juvenile offenders.

The amendment comes on the heels of an amendment offered several weeks ago by Senators Booker and Paul that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from arresting and prosecuting people in compliance with their state medical marijuana laws. Senator Paul also has a bill with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would provide federal judges more discretion in sentencing.

A bipartisan bill reforming mandatory minimums introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting floor action.

“The fact that two young and rising stars of both parties, both rumored to be considering future White House runs, are so passionately embracing criminal justice reform shows how politically popular these issues have become,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Voters want reform and smart elected officials know that. This legislation is good policy and good politics.”

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