Tell the Sentencing Commission: Help End Racial Disparities
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Dear United States Sentencing Commission,
On August 3, 2010 the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) of 2010 was signed into law. We the undersigned, representing students, faculty, and staff from The George Washington University, applaud the efforts of Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission to recognize the injustices of a policy that encouraged racial disparities and caused non-violent drug offenders to constitute over half of the federal prison population. To continue the intent of the FSA to reduce the over-incarceration of low-level drug offenders, we endorse the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act Guideline amendment.
For the past 20 years the Commission has recognized the acute racial disparities in drug sentencing. If the Commission fails to make the FSA guideline amendment retroactive, more than 12,000 individuals will continue to serve sentences that both Congress and the Commission have acknowledged were too harsh in the first place. Since over 85 percent of those offenders are African American, to deny retroactive application will perpetuate an injustice that the Fair Sentencing Act intended to correct.
Jasmine Tyler, Deputy Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance said, “Imagine that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had upheld segregation in existing schools and only mandated integration for new schools being built, or that discrimination was only prohibited in new bathrooms or water fountains…once these racist injustices are identified they must be eradicated in all their forms.”
As students in areas such as public health and law, we see the destructive effects of harsh and racist drug sentencing policies on entire communities and we will not stand idly by as these injustices continue to thwart our judicial system. For example, high rates of incarceration disrupt families and contribute to the high rates of HIV in many neighborhoods. To that end, not only do we sign this letter endorsing retroactive application of the FSA, but on June 26, 2011, we will stand together at The George Washington University for 12,000 seconds-- each second representing a life that will be positively transformed if the Commission votes to make the FSA guideline amendment retroactive.
We thank you for your time.
George Washington University Public Health Students/George Washington Law Student Association for Drug Law Reform