Featured Image: The Sentencing Project Executive Director Marc Mauer at an emergency rally.
If you pay attention to the news at all, it won’t surprise you that the legal system in the United States is flawed. As Paul Butler, Professor of Law at Georgetown University explains, “Our criminal justice system is profoundly sick. We lock people up for being mentally ill, for being poor, for being members of minority groups or of the LGBT community. That has got to change.”
The U.S. is the world leader in incarceration. We lock up our citizens at much higher rates than any comparable industrialized nation, and it isn’t solving the crime problem. To change, it will require enormous reform and policy change based on data and that’s exactly where our Q4 2017 Human Rights beneficiary, The Sentencing Project, comes in.
According to Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, in the early years, they worked on developing alternative sentencing programs, but then, over time, they started to look at the legal system overall and ask themselves, “What is the criminal justice system producing? What are its effects? What are the problems?” The answers to those questions moved their work in the direction of research and advocacy. In fact, the group at The Sentencing Project were the first people to begin collecting the data that detailed the vast expansion of mass incarceration. They were responsible for telling the story of what was going on.
Cynthia Jones, Professor of Law at American University, agrees that gathering and publishing this groundbreaking research was the first piece in the work to institute change, “And The Sentencing Project has, in that way, pushed the conversation in a direction toward effective and fair and race-neutral reform.” But they haven’t stopped there. The Sentencing Project also educates and lobbies state and national entities on topics of pre-sentencing policy, incarceration, felony disenfranchisement, racial disparity, drug policy, juvenile justice, and women and collateral consequences.
For more than 30 years, The Sentencing Project has worked for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system and Foundation Beyond Belief is excited to partner with them this quarter. As Dick Durbin, United States Senator from Illinois (D) said, “Let’s make sure that we’re smart when it comes to sentencing, not just tough, but smart, and make certain that those who are incarcerated are truly a danger to society and that those that are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes are not left to languish for decades or, perhaps, for their entire lives. So, The Sentencing Project has a continuing, important role in getting this job done.”
Learn more about our Humanist Grants program here. To become a monthly giving member to our Humanist Grants program, or to change the amount you give to each of our quarterly beneficiaries at any time, visit our website.
Quotes and data from video on TSP website.