Celebs Sign On In Support Of Criminal Justice Reform

By Victoria Kim 10/14/15

Everyone from Amy Schumer to Stephen Curry have signed on to urge the federal government to act now.

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Nearly 100 celebrities have joined the campaign to reduce the U.S. prison population by half over the next 10 years.

Vivica A. Fox, Amy Schumer, and Stephen Curry are among 96 actors, comedians, models, musicians, entrepreneurs, athletes, and activists who have signed a petition in an effort to urge Congress and President Obama to pass recent legislation aimed at reforming the criminal justice system.

The United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world, thanks in large part to the decades-long drug war and draconian sentencing requirements.

“Our broken criminal justice system harms more than it helps and wastes $80 billion a year,” said Van Jones, co-founder of #cut50, which organized the petition. “Americans are ready to fix it. Now it’s up to the national leaders in both parties to answer this call by passing strong federal legislation.”

A bipartisan bill to reform the system was introduced in the Senate on Oct. 1. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would grant judges greater discretion at sentencing for low-level drug crimes, reduce mandatory minimums sentences, and curb recidivism by helping prisoners successfully re-enter society.

Additional stars who have joined the #cut50 movement include Juliette Lewis, Russell Simmons, George Lopez, Piper Kerman, and Shonda Rhimes. The petition has collected 183,000 signatures so far.

“Lives won’t change until laws change,” said Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison and the inspiration for the Netflix series. “There are too many Americans immobilized behind bars for no good public safety reason—not able to be with their families or contribute to their communities. People deserve a second chance, so they can fulfill their potential and take care of their responsibilities. It’s essential that we take the necessary policy steps to make this possible.”

The bill is not a cure all. But while it "doesn't solve all the problems in our criminal justice system, it goes a long way," said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a supporter of the legislation.

Change is happening though, albeit slowly. In addition to President Obama exercising his commutation power to shorten the sentences of a small group of non-violent drug offenders, the Justice Department announced a plan this year to release 6,000 inmates early from federal prisons across the United States between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. It will be the single largest discharge of federal inmates in American history.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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