Breaking the cycle of mass incarceration

October 19, 2015
Reforming our nation's criminal justice system is critical to ending hunger and poverty in the United States.  Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Eric Mitchell

With all of the political gridlock happening in Washington, D.C., one of the few bipartisan initiatives moving forward is criminal justice reform.

Criminal justice reform is critical to ending hunger and poverty in the United States. Mandatory minimums for low-level nonviolent drug offenses has led to a burgeoning federal prison system filled with individuals serving long prison sentences. This impacts families who are already struggling to put food on the table.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. senators today and ask them to cosponsor the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S.2123).

More than 2.2 million people are currently incarcerated in the United States — a 500 percent increase over the last 30 years. Mass incarceration perpetuates the cycle of hunger and poverty. Formerly incarcerated individuals experience higher levels of unemployment and below average wages due to their criminal histories.

Mass incarceration impacts families and communities too. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to fall into poverty, as well as face challenges in school.

Let's break this cycle! The Senate recently introduced S. 2123 — a bipartisan bill that reduces lengthy sentences, assist those reentering society, and reduces mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. The bill also gives judges more flexibility when carrying out sentences.

S. 2123 alone won't end mass incarceration. More must be done. Returning citizens should have access to safety-net benefits such as SNAP and TANF. But this bipartisan bill is a good first step toward providing justice to the many families who have been separated from their loved ones for far too long.

Call (800/826-3688) or email our U.S. senators today and tell them to support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S.2123)!
 

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.
 

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World

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