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house Bill H.R. 71

Should Federal Prisons Release Non-Violent Inmates?

Argument in favor

Prisons are full of people who aren’t dangerous to anybody. It’s time for this country to let these people out, reform prison policy, and make sure that the incarcerated are actually a danger to the public.

MateoLowe's Opinion
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04/02/2015
Releasing non-violent prisoners as long as they fulfill the requirements sounds like a great step in prison reform and decreasing the amount of people in prisons now.
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Ian's Opinion
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04/02/2015
Putting these people in prison doesn't solve anything. Need to invest in programs that target the root cause and not the crime.
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Burton's Opinion
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04/03/2015
I think that we as a society are too focused on punishment and not rehabilitation. It seems now that as soon as you make a mistake you are forced to live with it for the rest of your life. Whatever happened to second chances? America was founded on people who wanted a second chance, that's why they moved to America. I think it's time we start giving people second chances again.
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Argument opposed

News flash: non violent crimes are still crimes. If you don’t want to go to prison, don’t commit the crime. Letting these people out sends a message to criminals that their crimes will go without adequate punishment.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/23/2015
This will create a huge incentive for criminals to commit even more crimes.
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Tracie's Opinion
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04/02/2015
A crime is a crime, and there needs to be consequences. Yes we need to target the root of the problem, but until we tackle that we can't just let people get out of their consequences.
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Dayne's Opinion
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04/02/2015
Prescott, AR, my hometown, has an overcrowding problem and just releases all criminals back onto the streets. The town has become drug infested, and overrun by drug trafficking, boot legging, and thugs. Those who commit crimes need punishment, violent or non-violent
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What is House Bill H.R. 71?

This bill seeks to reduce the number of prisoners in federal prison and ensuring that incarceration is fair. It would do so by offering a new way for nonviolent offenders to be released.


Specifically, this bill would release any inmate that had served half of their sentence or more, providing that they:

  • Are at least 45 years old;
  • Had never been convicted of a violent crime;
  • Were not violent while incarcerated.

Impact

People incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, their families, non-violent offenders, the communities where these people lived, prisons, prison staff, the Bureau of Prisons.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 71

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth:

This bill amends 18 U.S. Code 3624, which governs prisoner release—it establishes, for example, the system whereby prisoners get time off of their sentence for good behavior. This bill marks the sixth time sponsoring Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-TX) has introduced this legislation into Congress.


Of Note: 

It's easy to assume that non-violent offenders are just people who are in for drug charges. However, the April, 2015 announcement that 11 former educators in Atlanta, Georgia were being convicted of cheating on school test scores, could give another perspective: 

"In one of the nation's largest cheating scandals of its kind, the 11 defendants were convicted Wednesday of racketeering for their roles in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams. They include teachers, a principal and other administrators, who were accused of falsifying test results to collect bonuses or keep their jobs in the 50,000-student Atlanta public school system...The racketeering charges carry up to 20 years in prison."

The bill also comes at a time when people are starting to re-think incarceration. In August of 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that in an effort to cut down on the prison population, the Department of Justice would no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug crimes. His announcement also noted that the DOJ planned to expand a program that releases aging, non-violent offenders. 


The following March, he told the U.S. Sentencing Commission that he was in favor of reducing sentences for people that were already incarcerated for low-level drug crimes. Pragmatism is a motivating factor. U.S. prisons are well over capacity, particularly in Illinois, North Dakota, and California


Media:

Sponsoring Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Press Release (Previous Bill Version)
Countable YouTube

Van Cleave Law Firm, PC

Facebook Page (Previous Bill Version)

Change.org Petition (In Favor)

Summary by James Helmsworth 
(Photo Credit: Flickr user www.pvz.lt)

AKA

Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2015

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide an alternate release date for certain nonviolent offenders, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJanuary 6th, 2015
    Releasing non-violent prisoners as long as they fulfill the requirements sounds like a great step in prison reform and decreasing the amount of people in prisons now.
    Like (69)
    Follow
    Share
    This will create a huge incentive for criminals to commit even more crimes.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Putting these people in prison doesn't solve anything. Need to invest in programs that target the root cause and not the crime.
    Like (52)
    Follow
    Share
    I think that we as a society are too focused on punishment and not rehabilitation. It seems now that as soon as you make a mistake you are forced to live with it for the rest of your life. Whatever happened to second chances? America was founded on people who wanted a second chance, that's why they moved to America. I think it's time we start giving people second chances again.
    Like (39)
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    Share
    I'm okay with 45+ year olds who were convicted of "low level drug crimes" being let go early. Prisons are over populated, and in desperate need of reform.
    Like (20)
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    Prison reform is a necessary step to full democracy. Right now prisons are for profit, not rehabilitation. Non violent offenders should be released and integrated back into society.
    Like (17)
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    All you have to do is read the bullet points to see that this bill is reasonable. It only allows a very specific group of criminals the possibility of a release.
    Like (14)
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    This bill doesn't immediately release non-violent offenders, it makes them eligible for parole in half the time as violent offenders. I think that distinction is justified.
    Like (11)
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    Our prisons have been filled with nonviolent drug offenders and it is high time our country get it the hell together.
    Like (10)
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    For a free nation our prison system not only has turned into a big business, the U.S. Has the largest prison population in the world. Let's get people out and reduced costs of keeping people convicted of non violent victimless crimes
    Like (9)
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    A crime is a crime, and there needs to be consequences. Yes we need to target the root of the problem, but until we tackle that we can't just let people get out of their consequences.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    Prescott, AR, my hometown, has an overcrowding problem and just releases all criminals back onto the streets. The town has become drug infested, and overrun by drug trafficking, boot legging, and thugs. Those who commit crimes need punishment, violent or non-violent
    Like (8)
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    White collar crime may be non violent, but it is not victimless. As it is, most non violent federal crimes have sentences that are too short.
    Like (7)
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    The prison system is broken. These people are not dangerous. Let them out and let's start fixing this thing.
    Like (5)
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    This is offered as a solution to declutter prisons. This is not the way to do that.
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    A huge portion of the American prison population consists of nonviolent drug offenders. Thanks to the War on Drugs, the US houses 5% of the world's population, but incarcerates 25% of the world's inmates. Land of the Free, indeed. We need to treat drug addiction like the health crisis it is rather than the criminal issue that the government wants it to be. Legalize harmless drugs such as marijuana, and sentence drug addicts to rehab rather than prison. The whole point of prison should be rehabilitation, not punishment.
    Like (3)
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    Costs too much keeping them imprisoned.
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    Seems pretty simple to me. I'd add a component that would require those who are released to have training/certification so they could be employable in a reasonable amount of time after release
    Like (3)
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    When will congressional liberals decide to penalize lawbreakers (including themselves) instead of noncriminals? Why must we noncriminals be increasingly endangered by criminals because liberals pity them and release them in our midst?
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    Absolutely agree the tax dollars are paying to house and able body individual that is no violent threat to anyone fine them give the probation and let them fuel the economy
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