In the U.S. Senate, a bipartisan bill known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123) has been introduced and successfully voted out of committee. But, so far the bill has not been scheduled for a full vote of the Senate, and time is running short to pass criminal justice reform this year. Urge your Senator to support S. 2123, and to call on Senate leadership to expeditiously schedule floor time and a vote on this first step toward comprehensive criminal justice reform.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak with your Senate offices. When the call is connected, introduce yourself and say that you are calling about the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123). You can ask to speak to the staff member that works on criminal justice if available, or you can relay your message to the individual answering the phone.
Be sure to include a personal introduction identifying yourself as a Jewish community leader, a brief discussion of some of the general and Jewish talking points and the appropriate legislative ask depending on your Senator’s current position on S. 2123.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123), also known as SRCA, would, among other provisions:
- Reduce mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses.
- Increase the discretion of judges to give sentences below the mandatory minimum in certain cases.
- Make the mandatory minimum reductions retroactive in many cases and require that a judge approve each and every retroactive reduction.
- Reform the juvenile justice system by making it easier for juvenile records to be sealed and expunged and by eliminating juvenile solitary confinement in most cases.
- Offer pathways for individuals to end their sentences in halfway houses or in home confinement if they participate in anti-recidivism and re-entry programs.
- Add new mandatory minimums for interstate domestic violence and arms export violations.
If you have any questions or concerns with the information above, please do not hesitate to contact RAC Legislative Assistant Adam Waters at email@example.com or (202) 387-2800.
General Talking Points:
- Our criminal justice system is broken. Over the past three decades, tough-on-crime legislation at the federal and state levels, particularly for drug offenses, has created a system of over-criminalization and mass incarceration.
- Today, over two million people are being held in local, state and federal jails and prisons, the highest incarcerated population both in total number and in proportion of any country in the world.
- The criminal justice system displays deep and troublesome racial disparities.
- One in every three black men born today can expect to serve some time in prison, as compared to one in every 17 white men.
- We support efforts to reduce the rate and length of incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses.
- We further support making those reductions retroactive. If a certain sentence is found to be unfair, then it should be deemed unfair for all people, regardless of when they committed a crime or when they received the unfair sentence.
- “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn away from his life and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). In the Jewish tradition, the sanctity of all human lives is a primary value. Prisoners who have served an appropriate sentence are deserving of a second chance at a meaningful and productive life, and the criminal justice system should adequately prepare them to do so.
- “There is none on earth so righteous as to only do good and never sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). As human beings, we are all fallible and all have made mistakes. We believe in the power of redemption, and support a criminal justice system that offers second chances.
For Senators not cosponsoring S. 2123: I urge the Senator to support and vote for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123).
For Senators cosponsoring S. 2123: I thank the Senator for cosponsoring the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), and urge the Senator to call on Senate leadership to schedule floor time and a vote on the legislation in the coming weeks.
Senators Currently Cosponsoring S. 2123
* = Original Cosponsor
Sen. Bennet, Michael [D-CO]
Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]
Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]
Sen. Booker, Cory [D-NJ]*
Sen. Burr, Richard [R-NC]
Sen. Casey, Robert [D-PA]
Sen. Coons, Christopher [D-DE]
Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX]*
Sen. Daines, Steve [D-MT]
Sen. Durbin, Dick [D-IL]*
Sen. Gillibrand, Kristen [D-NY]
Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC]*
Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA]*
Sen. Ernst, Joni [R-IA]
Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA]
Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]
Sen. Franken, Al [D-MN]
Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA]
Sen. Kirk, Mark [R-IL]
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]
Sen. Leahy, Patrick [D-VT]*
Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT]*
Sen. Manchin, Joe [D-WV]
Sen. Mikulski, Barbara [D-MD]
Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS]
Sen. Murray, Patty [D-WA]
Sen. Nelson, Bill [D-FL]
Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY]
Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH]
Sen. Roberts, Pat [R-KS]
Sen. Schumer, Charles [D-NY]*
Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC]*
Sen. Tillis, Thom [R-NC]
Sen. Warner, Mark [D-VA]
Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI]*