Chris Dornin - Tell Congress: Invest in Second Chances, Not More Prisons

Dear friend of prison reform-

I seldom ask anyone to sign online petitions, here is maybe the second one I've ever passed along, but this time it's hugely important. There's a chance this week to keep Congress from gutting the national criminal justice reinvestment movement by shifting its own funding into prison construction instead of community programs for people on parole. 

States need that outside seed money to get community services going until the savings on prison budgets kicks in enough to build the critically needed infrastructure for ex-offenders.

As a result of pending federal legislation, a lot of federal start-up money for these visionary reforms would run out soon. We can still try to stop it from happening. 

By the way, you might want to bookmark the Sentencing Project. It's a marvelous resource.

Chris Dornin, chairman, Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform
Dear Friends,

I’m writing to ask your organization to support federal reentry funding and a curb on spending
for federal prison construction.

Earlier this month the U.S. Senate's Committee on Appropriations approved a bill to fund Commerce,
Justice and Science programs and agencies. The legislation eliminated funding for the Second Chance Act, which provides resources to states and local government to aid people reentering after incarceration. Instead, the bill funded a $300 million increase over last year for the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), raising its total budget to $6.6 billion. A significant portion of this increase will help kick off a multi-year prison building campaign that will result in 7 new prisons in 4 years. The bill specifically mentions that funding for reentry is not available because of the increases needed for the BOP due to its overcrowding crisis.

The Sentencing Project is very troubled by the Committee’s decision to invest in new prisons
instead of diverting people from prison. The policy will continue a cycle of increasing
incarceration and racial disparity that is very difficult to undo. The most effective means of
addressing the overcrowding crisis in the federal prison system is through sentencing reform to
limit excessive sentences. Indeed, states across the country have rejected the approach being
taken by the federal government and have successfully passed sentencing reforms that limit
population growth.

It is important that the Senate Appropriators know that building more prisons does not solve our
crime problems and there are better alternatives to addressing prison overcrowding. I hope your
organization will join us by signing the attached letter to Senators Mikulski and Hutchison. As heads of the subcommittee of jurisdiction, they finalize the bill’s language with the House of Representatives.

The deadline for endorsements is Friday, September 30.

Please email if your organization would like to sign on. And, please share
this letter with your networks and ask them to support the effort as well.


Marc Mauer