Archbishop Wenski, Catholic Charities’ Father Snyder Urge U.S. Sentencing Commission To Fix Broken Federal Drug Sentencing Guidelines

July 8, 2014 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The Chairman ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice andHuman Development and the president of Catholic Charities USA, urged the U.S.Sentencing Commission to retroactively fix flawed federal sentencing guidelinesfor federal non-violent drug offenses.

"The United States imprisonsmore people per capita than any other nation in the world at a cost ofapproximately $80 billion annually," Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Committee chair, and Father LarrySnyder, Catholic Charities USA's president, wrote in a July 7 letter. "Rigid sentences for non-violent offenses are notonly costly and ineffective, but can be detrimental to the good of persons,families, and communities. Prolonged incarceration often contributes to familyinstability and poverty and can contribute to recidivism."

They urged the U.S. SentencingCommission to apply the corrections retroactively to "help address brokensentencing guidelines that have resulted in excessive sentences for 51,000federal drug offenders sentenced since 1987."

Archbishop Wenski and FatherSnyder added that the justice system should promote healing and restoration. "OurCatholic tradition supports the community's right to establish and enforce lawsthat protect people and advance the common good. But our faith teaches us thatboth victims and offenders have a God-given dignity that calls for justice andrestoration, not vengeance. Contrition, restitution and rehabilitation canbetter serve the cause of justice than simply punishment for the sake ofpunishment," they wrote.

They also echoed the wordsof Pope Francis who has said, "God is in everyone's life. Even if the life of aperson has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anythingelse ­­­­­­– God is in this person's life."

The full text of the letter is available online:www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-justice-restorative-justice/upload/letter-to-us-sentencing-comm-drug-sentences-2014-07-14.pdf

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Keywords:U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities USA

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