OAR Supports the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015

Today, October 1, 2015, the Senate announced a historic reform bill titled the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.  This bill directly supports the mission of OAR, as it seeks to reduce recidivism by helping individuals successfully return to the community after incarceration.  It also validates the work that OAR does for returning citizens and the efforts of OAR to follow evidence based practices.  The bill also aims to reduce prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders and grants judges greater discretion in sentencing for lower-level drug crimes.  The bill has garnered bipartisan support and is spearheaded by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin.

Regarding this new legislation, Durbin stated, “This compromise represents more than three years of work on criminal justice reform.  The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on earth. Mandatory minimum sentences were once seen as a strong deterrent. In reality they have too often been unfair, fiscally irresponsible and a threat to public safety. Given tight budgets and overcrowded prison cells, our country must reform these outdated and ineffective laws that have cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. This bipartisan group is committed to getting this done.”

OAR’s Acting Executive Director, Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, stated, “As I listened to the press conference about this historic new legislation, I feel even more honored to be part of the OAR team and to carry out our mission. At OAR we are already on the forefront. We are doing great work to ensure that our clients get a second chance, fully incorporate back into their communities, and contribute the vital skills and gifts they possess. We offer alternative sentencing opportunities for clients to give back and restore the community while they discover and enhance their talents. And we are reducing recidivism which not only helps make the community safer but stops the trauma experienced from interactions with the criminal justice system for our clients and their families.

I am encouraged by this bill and also by hearing about this critical issue daily. This bill is a great start and as we know, there is more work to do. The bill needs to pass and at the same time more funds need to be allocated to our work to support those coming home in an evidence-based way. We can cheer now and then fully celebrate when the bill becomes law!”

More information about this bill can be found online here:  http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/senators-announce-bipartisan-sentencing-reform-and-corrections-act