Domestic (In)justice Activism Opportunities

  • Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW via @cut_50 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW.

    1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on incarceration. 70 million Americans have a criminal record. In too many neighborhoods, young people of color are more likely to go to prison than college.

    Over the course of this year, those stats — straight out of Cut50’s campaign supporting bipartisan criminal justice reform — have lead to an unlikely alliance of traditional ideological adversaries like The ACLU and Koch Industries. With the left and the right backing a reduction in the inmate population, legislation has actually been introduced in the House and Senate.

    As reported in NPR, Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, is behind the bill because: "The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the most substantial criminal justice reform legislation introduced since the inception of the 'tough on crime' movement and is the best indication we have that those days are over.”

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums is also supporting the legislation. President Julie Stewart acknowledges that it isn’t perfect, but says "it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices.”

    The House bill — the SAFE Justice Act — and the Senate bill — the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — propose system-wide reforms to reduce over-criminalization, enhance rehabilitation, support individuals’ rebuilding after prison terms, reform federal prison sentencing, and reduce automatic and harsh punishments like “three strikes” laws.

    Visit JusticeReformNow.org to sign the Cut50 petition, which is approaching 200,000 signatures — it turns out criminal justice reform is also popular with celebrity activists and the general public! You can also join in demanding that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America by following the #JusticeReformNOW & #Cut50 hashtags.

    We already know this Congress is loathe to do anything besides push deadlines on the budget and investigate Planned Parenthood without a public outcry. Let’s make sure they can hear us loud and clear.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Demand that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America” via #cut50

    Sources/further reading:

    "FAMM: House Sentencing Reform Compromise Another Step in Right Direction” via Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — the full legislation

    "Here's One Thing Washington Agreed On This Week: Sentencing Reform” via NPR

    "Senators Announce Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — announcement from the Judiciary Committee

    "Senate Introduces ‘Gamechanger’ Criminal Justice Reform Bill” via Time

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #959 "The need to do better (Mass Incarceration)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@POTUS: Free Victims of the Drug War via @DrugPolicyOrg — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Free Victims of the Drug War" with the Drug Policy Alliance.

    President Obama stepped up his pardons earlier this year by commuting the sentences of 22 federal prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses being served “under an outdated sentencing regime,” according to the administration. As Trymaine Lee reported for MSNBC.com, the president described the power of commutation as embodying “the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance.”

    For what are most certainly widely varying reasons, bipartisan conversations have begun seeking to tackle the injustices of decades-old mandatory minimum and three-strikes laws which have lead to the overcrowding of our nation’s prisons and the fulfilling of the greedy dreams of private prison company CEOs. In his statement on the commutations, the president acknowledged both the social good and the financial imperative of fixing the broken system.

    “Well, here’s the good news,” the president said. "There is an increasing realization on the left, but also on the right politically, that what we’re doing is counterproductive. We’re all responsible for at least a solution to this.”

    As the predictably slow wheels of potential Congressional action turn, there is good news: this is another situation where the White House holds significant unilateral power. The Drug Policy Alliance is campaigning to pressure the president on additional commutations — which should be an easy sell as he has already established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals sentenced under the draconian drug laws to petition for commutation.

    You can join with the Drug Policy Alliance by visiting DrugPolicy.org/action and contacting the White House through their "Free Victims of the Drug War” page. You can also follow their hashtag #NoMoreDrugWar and use it to publicly share that you’re participating in the campaign to free those wrongly and cruelly incarcerated.

    As the Drug Policy Alliance letter-writing page explains, the White House is starting to listen on this issue; now is the time to build momentum by asking the president to continue a process he began and not leave the work unfinished for an incoming administration. The time is now.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to tell the president to Free Victims of the Drug War via the Drug Policy Alliance

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    FOLLOW the hashtag: #NoMoreDrugWar

    For those who want to get more involved, it’s early registration for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference (11/18-11/21/2015)

    Sources/further reading:

    "President Obama commutes prison sentences of 22 drug offenders” by Trymaine Lee at MSNBC.com

    "Prolific Pardoner? Obama Grants Clemency to 22 Prisoners Last Week, but Has Denied Thousands” by Annie Waldman for ProPublica via Truthout

    "Will the U.S. Senate Finally Reform Harsh Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drugs?”> via Drug Policy Alliance

    "The Nation's Shame: The Injustice of Mandatory Minimums" by Andrea Jones at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #929 "Looking to avert further tragedy (War on Drugs™)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich