A conservative-liberal coalition today announced details of a campaign to overhaul the nation's sentencing system, reduce incarceration, and provide "fair chances" for released prisoners returning home.
The plan was outlined by leaders of the Coalition for Public Safety, which calls itself "the nation's largest bipartisan criminal justice reform organization."
Some key points of the drive include reducing the length of mandatory minimum sentences in both federal and state prisons, cutting recidivism rates, expanding substance abuse treatment in prisons and jails, and "banning the box" to end automatic or categorical disqualifications for jobs based on applicants' criminal records.
The coalition said that 2.3 million adults are incarcerated in prisons and jails around the U.S., and nearly 12 million people pass through jails every year. The group contended that nearly half of state prison inmates are serving time for non-violent offenses. "American taxpayers spend $80 billion each year for jails and prisons to keep this bloated and inefficient system afloat," the organization said.
The extensive plan is notable because it takes a broad look at sentencing and prisoner issues along a wide spectrum of ideological views, including traditionally liberal ideas like reducing life without parole sentences and conservative planks such as reducing "over-criminalization" of federal laws.