Sending Office: Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee
Reduce our Prison Population: Co-Sponsor H.R. 64, the “Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2018.”
July 06, 2018
I invite you to join me as a co-sponsor of H.R. 64, the “Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2017.”
The rate of violent crime in the United States has declined since the early 1990s; only approximately 30.2% of federal prison inmates are currently incarcerated for committing violent crimes. However, the incarnation rate in America has grown by roughly
790% since 1980, while the overall population has risen only by about 44%. The federal prison system is now largely comprised of nonviolent offenders: roughly half of the inmates in federal prisons were convicted on drug offenses, many of whom share cells
with violent criminals.
Incarcerating federal prisoners is expensive; at an average cost of more than $25,000 per prisoner, the federal government spends billions each year to incarcerate nonviolent offenders for increasingly extended sentences. Moreover, incarceration has myriad
indirect costs to taxpayers, such as the costs of social services, child welfare, and education that are incurred while the inmate is serving his or her sentence. Finally, with long prison terms for nonviolent offenders, the process of rehabilitation is deferred
with no tangible benefit to the inmate or society.
Strict laws on opioids has resulted in a great number of incarcerations within United States prisons. Approximately 46.2% of all offenses that led to prison this year were due to drug offenses. However, this is a result of the overly strict nature opioid
punishments placing a mandatory sentence on opioid abusers. Laws established in 1999 state that 4 grams, roughly 8 pills, will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years as well as a fine of $50,000 while 28 grams, roughly 54 pills, will result in a
mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years as well as a fine of $500,000, not even half a month’s prescription for long term patients. With the drug gram restriction continuously decreasing, this law does not provide a crackdown on opioids but simply floods prisons
with citizens who are in critical need of rehabilitation.
H.R. 62 amends the federal criminal code to direct the Bureau of Prisons, pursuant to a good time policy, to release a prisoner who has served one half or more of his or her term of imprisonment if that prisoner: (1) has attained age 45; (2) has never been
convicted of a crime of violence; and (3) has not engaged in any violation, involving violent conduct, of institutional disciplinary regulations. A bipartisan consensus is developing across this country in support of such a policy. Allowing this particular
group of nonviolent offenders to go home to their families is both beneficial to the inmates as well as in the best interest of the United States. H.R. 64 covers only those prisoners who are 45 years of age or older, and will allow these nonviolent offenders
to return to their families and to rebuild their lives before it’s too late for them to become productive members of society.
I urge you to support this effort to reduce the number of non-violent offenders incarcerated in our prisons, and co-sponsor H.R. 64. Accordingly, please contact Monalisa Dugue at
Monalisa.Dugue@mail.house.gov or (202)631-3057 to co-sponsor this legislation.
Very Truly Yours,
Sheila Jackson Lee
Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0