Tags: aclu | shorter | prison | sentences

ACLU to Push for Shorter Prison Sentences

By    |   Thursday, 06 November 2014 10:41 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to use a $50 million foundation grant to lobby for shorter prison sentences.

The New York Times reports that the organization will launch a political campaign to try and force changes to the criminal justice system in the United States through local, state, and federal elections.

The project is funded by Open Society Foundations, whose chairman is billionaire and Democratic Party donor George Soros.

The incarceration rate has increased three-fold since 1980, according to the Times report, and there are about 2.2 million people in U.S. prisons. Drug sweeps and mandatory sentences have contributed to those numbers, reports the Times.

"I think criminal justice reform is one of the few issues where you can break through the partisan gridlock," said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director. He added that the organization will reach out to Republican lobbying firms as part of the effort to get in touch with lawmakers.

California voters on Tuesday passed Proposition 47, which shortens sentences for some nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and reduces some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

According to the Los Angeles Times, experts think the new law will affect 40,000 offenders in California every year.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that the city has asked for $510,000 to hire 15 lawyers and assistants to deal with the expected spike in misdemeanor cases going through the court system.

The ACLU's effort, according to The New York Times, will be spearheaded by Alison Holcomb — who led the charge to legalize marijuana in Washington State.

Earlier this week, it was reported that former California state Sen. Roderick Wright served just one hour of a 90-day prison sentence he received for violating voter fraud laws.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said serving less than a full sentence is not uncommon in the state.

"A lot of people are not serving 100 percent of their time because of overcrowding," said Nicole Nishida, adding that Wright did not receive any special treatment.

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The American Civil Liberties Union plans to use a $50 million foundation grant to lobby for shorter prison sentences.
aclu, shorter, prison, sentences
Thursday, 06 November 2014 10:41 PM
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