Civil and Human Rights Coalition Applauds Introduction of Bill to Rein in Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Media 08.1.13

Washington, D.C. – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the Senate’s bipartisan introduction today of the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013, a bill that will slow the growth of our federal prison population by reducing lengthy sentences for certain people convicted of nonviolent offenses:

“We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan introduction of the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill that will help slow the growth of our unsustainable, overcrowded federal prison population. This bill is a much needed first step toward making our criminal justice system more fair, just, and affordable.

Thirty years of ‘tough on crime’ sentencing has created an unjust system that imprisons more people than any other industrialized nation in the world, a disproportionate number of whom are Black, Latino, low-income, and nonviolent.

It is long past time that we eliminated our justice system’s overreliance on mandatory minimum sentencing and stopped imprisoning low-level, nonviolent drug offenders for exorbitantly long periods of time. Judges should have more discretion to determine sentences that fit the nature of the crime and take into account relevant factors.

We cannot imprison our way to safety. The Smarter Sentencing Act is a reasonable reform that will ensure that we are using our prison space and resources in the most efficient and humane way we can. We urge Congress to pass this vital legislation.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit