In a joint letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called on members of the Committee to support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123). In particular, we stressed support for the following provisions:
- Reforms enhanced mandatory minimum sentences for prior drug felons;
- Expands “safety valves” to give judges more flexibility in sentencing;
- Counters recidivism by expanding prison-based reentry programs;
- Limits the use of solitary confinement for juveniles.
Catholic Charities USA’s advocacy on criminal justice reform is grounded in the experience of our agencies work with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. As one of the nation’s largest social service providers, Catholic Charities agencies see the many struggles that the formerly incarcerated face once they leave prison with only the clothes on their backs, no place to live, and very little money or possibly none at all. In response, Catholic Charities agencies provide a diverse array of services: 42 agencies nationwide provided temporary or transitional shelter to the formerly incarcerated and 44 agencies provide other programs specifically targeting current and former prisoners,reaching more than 40,000 people in 2014. Services to this population include residential services for adults as well as delinquent youth, mentoring programs, housing, education and training, counseling services, and victims’ assistance.
“This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you hand to help you rejoin society. All of us are a part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help and enable your rehabilitation.”
– Pope Francis, Address to Prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility