The Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition [ICJC] and Friends Committee on National Legislation co-hosted a program on sentencing reform, Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform, with Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.
Grassley is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over Senate criminal justice legislation.
He also leads the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act [SRCA]. SRCA would roll back some of the war on drugs policies that have created mass incarceration. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed SRCA this year.
When he first took office in the early 1980s, Grassley supported long mandatory minimum sentences intended to fight drug crime, but his views have evolved. He told those attending the program, “we have a duty to make sure that the policies we enacted into laws are having the intended effect.”
The senator spoke of people with low-level offenses, trapped in the system for too long. Judges were required to abide by rigid formulas rather than base their decisions on individual circumstances. Today, Grassley advocates to reduce mandatory minimum sentences and give discretion back to judges.
SRCA has strong bipartisan support and reflects decades of work by advocates on both sides of the aisle.
A coalition of over 40 national faith organizations founded in 2006, the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition brings together diverse faiths to engage in federal advocacy to reform the U.S. criminal justice system. They have worked extensively with Senator Grassley, advocating for equity, ending excessive punishments, promoting alternatives to incarceration, encouraging rehabilitation and reintegration, and protecting the dignity and well-being of everyone affected by the criminal justice system.
ICJC is the only faith-based coalition on Capitol Hill working for criminal justice reforms. Mr. John Stanard, Church of Scientology National Director, Social Betterment Programs & Policy, is a member of the Coalition.
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