NCC urges support of the June 4 ‘Smarter Sentencing’ call-in

Washington, June 3, 2014 – Fresh from its May Christian Unity Gathering where more than 250 participants focused on the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, the National Council of Churches is urging support of a national call-in tomorrow to U.S. senators to demand passage of the Smarter Sentencing Act.

The bipartisan bill, S. 1410, sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, would reduce excessively long sentences for low-level drug offenses, and authorize judges to review cases for possible resentencing.

The National Council of Churches and several of its member communions are urging members to call the senate switchboard tomorrow at 1-888-427-0484 to be connected to their senators’ offices.

“This crucial bill has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and this is a critical time to help push it to the Senate floor,” said Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, interim Associate General Secretary for Joint Action and Advocacy.

Tiemeyer urged supporters to call their senators tomorrow, and to ask others in their networks to do the same.

Prison reform experts who addressed the Christian Unity Gathering May 19 and 20 reported there are 1.7 million persons incarcerated in the U.S., the vast majority of them persons of color and persons convicted of non-violent crimes and drug offenses.

Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, told gathering participants that “there is no simple legislation that can end mass incarceration. It will take a long time but we must do it.”

The Smarter Sentencing Act “can cut in half mandatory sentences for minor drug offenses,” Mefford said, urging widespread support of tomorrow’s national call in.

As part of the NCC’s ongoing efforts to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act, Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, has joined more than 1,100 clergy and faith leaders in signing a letter to Senate Leadership.

“As clergy and faith leaders from a diversity of beliefs, we believe in the inherent dignity of all people,” the letter states.

“We believe the criminal-justice system should treat people, regardless of their offense, justly and humanely. We call on you to uphold these principles by supporting and passing the Smarter Sentencing Act, S. 1410/H.R. 3382.”

The full text of the letter can be found by clicking here.


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Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 646-853-4212 (cell), cruzandjenks@gmail.com