USCCB Committee Chair and CCUSA President Welcome Bi-Partisan Leadership on Criminal Justice Bill

October 7, 2015 By Public Affairs Office

 WASHINGTON—Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Sr. Donna Markham welcomed the recent introduction of the bi-partisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 in the United States Senate. The Act reduces certain mandatory minimum sentences, expands so-called sentencing "safety valves," works to reduce recidivism with expanded prison-based programs, and limits solitary confinement for juvenile offenders, among other things. Key sponsors include Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin, as well as Senators Cornyn, Whitehouse, Lee, Schumer, Graham, Leahy and Booker.

"Pope Francis stressed only days ago that: 'Jesus ... teaches us to see the world through his eyes. Eyes which are not scandalized by the dust picked up along the way, but want to cleanse, heal and restore. He asks us to create new opportunities: for inmates, for their families, for correctional authorities, and for society as a whole,'" said Archbishop Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

"The bishops welcome this modest bi-partisan effort to reform our criminal justice system. We must try to ensure that sentences are just, while creating humane space in which individuals can restore their lives with the kind of support that reduces the chances that they will return to prison in the future. These reforms are a step in the right direction."

"Reform to the criminal justice system is long overdue," said Sr. Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President of Catholic Charities USA. "Catholic social teaching affirms that human dignity is not something we earn by good behavior, but it is something we are endowed with as children of God. Strengthening families and community connections should play a central role in our criminal justice system. Catholic Charities USA supports efforts that reflect these priorities."

Pope Francis visited those incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia on September 27.
Keywords: Archbishop Wenski, Sister Donna Markham, Criminal Justice, Sentence Reform, United States Senate, Senate,, Chuck Grassley, Dick Durbin, Cornyn, Whitehouse, Lee, Schumer, Graham, Leahy, Booker
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
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