This bill amends 18 U.S. Code 3624, which governs prisoner release—it establishes, for example, the system whereby prisoners get time off of their sentence for good behavior. This bill marks the sixth time sponsoring Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-TX) has introduced this legislation into Congress.
It's easy to assume that non-violent offenders are just people who are in for drug charges. However, the April, 2015 announcement that 11 former educators in Atlanta, Georgia were being convicted of cheating on school test scores, could give another perspective:
"In one of the nation's largest cheating scandals of its kind, the 11 defendants were convicted Wednesday of racketeering for their roles in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams. They include teachers, a principal and other administrators, who were accused of falsifying test results to collect bonuses or keep their jobs in the 50,000-student Atlanta public school system...The racketeering charges carry up to 20 years in prison."
The bill also comes at a time when people are starting to re-think incarceration. In August of 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that in an effort to cut down on the prison population, the Department of Justice would no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug crimes. His announcement also noted that the DOJ planned to expand a program that releases aging, non-violent offenders.
The following March, he told the U.S. Sentencing Commission that he was in favor of reducing sentences for people that were already incarcerated for low-level drug crimes. Pragmatism is a motivating factor. U.S. prisons are well over capacity, particularly in Illinois, North Dakota, and California.
Sponsoring Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Press Release (Previous Bill Version)
Van Cleave Law Firm, PC
Facebook Page (Previous Bill Version)Change.org Petition