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Press Release

House Committee Considers Prison Reform Bill Criticized by Civil Rights Groups

A bill being considered today is a half-hearted measure at reforming our broken criminal justice system

April 25, 2018

New York, N.Y. – The House Judiciary Committee today will consider a prison reform bill backed by the White House but widely decried by civil rights groups as insufficient. The hearing comes days after the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law criticized the bill in a letter to members of Congress.
Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, released the following statement in advance of the markup:
“This bill is an attempt to force all of us fighting for criminal justice reform to negotiate against ourselves. There is broad agreement among a bipartisan group of lawmakers and law enforcement leaders to get real about reducing federal sentences. But now, this half-hearted bill being sold by the White House as serious reform is anything but. While it has some good provisions, in short it is a mockery of the progress we’ve made.
“We’re hopeful committee members will support bolder change and push for sentencing reform that would address systemic problems with how people end up behind bars in the first place. Only change at that scale will put us on a path toward reducing mass incarceration, and address one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time.”
Read a letter from 60 civil rights groups — including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, ACLU, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund — and a letter from law enforcement officials opposing the bill. 
For more information about sentencing reform legislation lawmakers should adopt, read Criminal Justice: An Election Agenda for Candidates, Activists, and Legislators.

To learn more about the nearly 40 percent of Americans behind bars without a public safety justification, read How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated? 

And for more on the administration’s stance on criminal justice issues, read Criminal Justice One Year Into the Trump Administration.

To connect with a Brennan Center expert, contact Stephen Fee at or 646–925–8720.