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WHEREAS, the NAACP is committed to supporting comprehensive criminal justice reform which address the grossly disproportionate impact that our federal charging and sentencing policies have had on communities of color; and
WHEREAS, from initial contacts with police officers, which are often driven by racial profiling and other racially tainted practices, through every stage of the criminal justice process, African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities receive disparately severe treatment; and
WHEREAS, nearly a million African Americans today are incarcerated in prisons and in jails, and while we comprise just over 13% of the total American population, we make up more than 40% of those who are incarcerated; and
WHEREAS, unless there is a change, a black male born today has a one-in- three chance of going to prison in his lifetime; and
WHEREAS, African American women have the highest rate of incarceration among women in our nation, a rate that is four times higher than that of White women; and
WHEREAS, the NAACP has worked with and commends the bi-partisan efforts of Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI) and Ranking Member Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA) in forming and leading the U.S. House of Representatives Over- Criminalization Task Force; and
WHEREAS, over the course of ten hearings, the U.S. House of Representatives Over-Criminalization Task Force heard from federal agencies, stakeholders, experts, academics, and advocates about the problems of Over-Criminalization as well as potential solutions; and
WHEREAS, included in the problems brought to the attention of the Task Force were the racial disparities inherent in our nation's criminal justice system and the proliferation of federal criminal penalties that duplicate civil sanctions and state prosecutions; and
WHEREAS, included in some of the potential solutions which the Task Force was called on to consider were diverting mentally ill and addicted offenders from incarceration; narrowing the application of mandatory minimum sentences; expanding proven recidivism-reducing programming; and eliminating barriers to re-entry.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP Washington Bureau is called upon to review any legislation that is the product of this task force, especially proposals which build upon the evidence-based successes that the majority of states have implemented; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP through its full array of resources and most specifically its Washington Bureau should support through letters, Action Alerts, and other advocacy tools at its disposal legislation, regulations, and any guidance which is put forth by the Chairman and Ranking Member of this task force which will result in saving taxpayer money, improving public safety for citizens and law enforcement officers alike, and reducing the racial and ethnic disparities currently found in the American Criminal Justice system which meets the NAACP policy criteria.