Letter: Address prison overpopulation

Dani Stites

The U.S. has over 2.3 million people incarcerated. More than any other country in the world. Nearly half of all inmates in the United States are imprisoned for non-violent drug crimes. Sixty percent of them are subject to mandatory minimum sentences that were set by Congress and implemented in 1980. These mandatory sentences are a large reason why the prisons are overpopulated.

There are two important bipartisan bills that are making their way to the floor, the Sentencing Reform bill (H.R. 3713) and the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act (H.R. 759).

If enacted, these laws will allow judges more discretion when sentencing and reduce long prison sentences for certain non-violent crimes. They will provide drug treatment programs and education that will help reduce recidivism. They will give prisoners new ways to prepare for life once they are released. They will lower the population in federal prisons and save taxpayer dollars.

I had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Rod Blum and found not only that he was knowledgeable on these bills, but that he was in support of them. I would like to commend him on his leadership and commitment in supporting these bills. Reducing the overpopulation of our prisons and seeing that prisoners are properly equipped for reintegration into society is an important investment for all.

Dani Stites

Cedar Rapids

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