It’s no secret that America’s prisons are overcrowded. Over the last 30 years the federal prison population has exploded from 25,000 in 1980 to nearly 210,000 today. In an attempt to be “tough on crime” Congress passed several laws establishing mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. These mandatory minimums are the direct cause of the massive overcrowding we see in today’s federal prisons.
Crowded prisons put all correctional workers and facility staff at risk every day. We know that there is no way to truly address prison safety without reforming the way sentences are handed down. That’s why AFGE urges Members of Congress to pass S. 502 and H.R. 920 the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act.
This legislation wouldn’t eliminate mandatory minimums outright, but instead would lower the minimum sentence a judge can hand out. The Smarter Sentencing Act would also give federal judges more leeway and discretion when it comes to mandatory sentencing guidelines.
AFGE believes that the provisions contained in this legislation are needed to make our prison workers safer while on the job, while also making a positive reform to the prison system.