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Seeking Abolishment or Repeal of “Mandatory Minimum Sentencing”

WHEREAS, one in every 100 (2.4 million) adults are now confined in America's jails and prisons, resulting in the United States with only 5% of the world's population imprisoning one-quarter of the planet's prisoners; and


WHEREAS, our country chose the dubious distinction of being the leading numerical and per capita incarcerator in the history of the world, exceeding the combined prisoner populations of the 36 other next-ranking nations combined by nearly half-a-million citizens; and


WHEREAS, prison growth is not driven by increases in crime or overall population growth, rather primarily from the political policy choices of enacting various Mandatory Minimum sentencing schemes; and


WHEREAS, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were first enacted with New York State's infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws in 1973, which required long mandatory minimum sentences even for first time, non-violent drug offenses extending to life in prison, and even recently modified leaving 10,000 such souls serving interminable terms; and


WHEREAS, over the next two decades, the majority of states and federal governments enacted Truth-In-Sentencing (TIS) statutes, mandating that a minimum of 85% of – what were already the longest prison sentences in the world — their terms be served before release consideration; and

WHEREAS, the cumulative result of these mandatory sentencing changes has been the tripling of the prison population from 1987 to 2007 and projected to grow another 200,000 over the next five years; and


WHEREAS, moreover, the impact of these (particularly drug-focused) unjust and ineffective policies has been most devastating in low-income neighborhoods of color, deporting entire generations of young men and women, destroying whole communities through mass incarceration; and


WHEREAS, by categorical example of this imbalanced (if not targeted) impact, African-Americans compose 13% of those committing drug offenses, but represent 60% of those serving various forms of Mandatory Minimum sentences across the criminal justice spectrum; and


WHEREAS, former-federal prosecutor and associate dean of George Washington University Law School, Paul Butler, stated in the Fall 2009 issue of The Crisis, "That's not only immoral, its crushing our families and neighborhoods."


THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP work toward the education of all citizens in recommending that the repeal of Mandatory Minimum (i.e., TIS) sentences be a major accountability issue for elected officials/candidates who seek support from the disproportionally-impacted communities of color; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP direct its National Office to use its prestige and resources to repeal the Mandatory Minimum sentences; and


BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP direct its members and encourage registered voters to contact their respective state and federal elected officials to repeal their states' and federal Mandatory Minimum sentencing statues.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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