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American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform http://accjr.org Tue, 22 Nov 2016 23:51:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.13 Criminal Justice Reform Isn’t ‘Soft on Crime’ http://accjr.org/criminal-justice-reform-isnt-soft-on-crime/ Tue, 22 Nov 2016 23:22:29 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=950 Law enforcement officers, taxpayers, prosecutors—and anyone else—who oppose criminal justice or prison reform are either ill-informed on the issues or are looking at the situation through the wrong end of the telescope. As United States District Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote: “The criminal justice system in the United States today bears little relationship to what the Founding Fathers contemplated, what the movies and television portray, or what the average American believes.”

Criminal justice reform is smart and right. It will make our streets safer, the jobs of law enforcement easier, and provide more money for additional officers, training and equipment and for other services in our communities. True reform focuses on every American’s Constitutional rights, making our justice system and prisons humane and safe, efficient and effective.

[Read the Full Piece Here] ]]>
ACCJR Spokesman Bernie Kerik Quoted in The Hill http://accjr.org/accjr-spokesman-bernie-kerik-quoted-in-the-hill/ Sun, 16 Oct 2016 23:24:54 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=952

“Whether it is the incarceration of young blacks sentenced to draconian sentences for low level, first-time, nonviolent drug offenses, or white-collar, first-time offenders sentenced to tens of years — and even life — in prison, one thing is for sure: We are creating a permanent American underclass of society that is costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars over the reported cost of incarceration. And, considering that the United States incarcerates more citizens per capita than any country in the world, you have to ask yourself: At what cost?”

Read the Full Article Here

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Kerik Pushes Back Against Criminal Justice Reform Opponents http://accjr.org/kerik-pushes-back-against-criminal-justice-reform-opponents/ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 23:29:33 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=955 Excerpted from “The GOP Argument Against Criminal Justice Reform Just Got Dismantled” 

Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who later served federal prison time, has completely dismantled conservative Republican arguments against a Senate bill that would reform the criminal justice system.

Kerik, an advocate for justice reform, fired off a letter to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday that takes issue with Cotton’s attack on reform legislation as a “criminal leniency bill” that would be “dangerous for America.”

“The theory that federal mandatory minimum prison sentences are necessary to keep our streets safe is simply false,” Kerik wrote to Cotton, who is leading the efforts of GOP conservatives to torpedo the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.

The Senate legislation, sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) appeared to be gaining steam until Cotton launched his broadside against it. Cotton argues the significant drop in murder, robbery and other violent crime since the 1990s directly results from “higher mandatory minimums put in place in the 1980s coupled with vigilant policing strategies pioneered by Rudy Giuliani and other American mayors and law enforcement officials.”

Read the Full Article Here

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Letter from Law Enforcement Community to Congressional Leaders http://accjr.org/letter-from-law-enforcement-community-to-congressional-leaders/ Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:12:27 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=939

We write to express our support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123), similar to the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3713). As current and former leaders of the law enforcement community — police chiefs, U.S. Attorneys, federal law enforcement, and heads of national law enforcement organizations — we believe that protecting public safety is a vital goal. Our experience has shown us that the country can reduce crime while also reducing unnecessary arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration. We believe the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will accomplish this goal and respectfully urge you to support it. We appreciate your leadership on and concern for the important criminal justice issues facing the country today.

Our group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, unites more than 160 current and former police chiefs, district attorneys, U.S. Attorneys, and attorneys general from all 50 states. Our mission is to replace ineffective policies with new solutions that both reduce crime and incarceration. To achieve this goal, we focus on four policy priorities — one of which is reforming mandatory minimum sentencing laws.  [Read the Full Letter] ]]> ACCJR Spokesman Bernie Kerik’s Vice News Interview http://accjr.org/accjr-spokesman-bernie-kerik-vice-news/ Mon, 25 Jan 2016 16:05:10 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=933

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ACCJR Supports The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 http://accjr.org/accjr-supports-the-sentencing-reform-act-of-2015/ Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:17:21 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=928 WASHINGTON, D.C.  November 18, 2015 – Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote, The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3713) designed to reform federal sentencing laws.  This bi-partisan initiative reduces certain mandatory minimums for drug offenses, including the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years and the second-strike mandatory sentence from 20 to 15 years.

The bill provides mechanisms for non-violent drug offenders to be sentenced below mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and provides greater discretion to judges to determine appropriate sentences. The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 also contains important limitations on retroactivity to ensure that serious violent criminals serve the full time for their crimes in federal prison and do not get out of prison early.

“Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID), and Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) have advanced what we hope will be an ongoing effort to begin to unravel our broken criminal justice system”- says Bernard Kerik, ACCJR spokesman.  “I would also urge members on both sides of the aisle to support the default mens rea, legislation (the mental state a person must be in while committing a crime for it to be intentional. It can refer to a general intent to break the law or a specific, premeditated plan to commit a particular offense) introduced earlier this week by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

“Attending Attorney General Lynch’s testimony Tuesday, in between meetings with members of Congress provided me with a real sense that despite differences between Democrats and Republicans, The White House and the Department of Justice, in fundamental policy positions, there is some common ground that will help to make incremental changes to our archaic criminal justice laws.  I remain hopeful we can move forward by years end at the latest early 2016.” concluded Kerik.

The American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform 501 c4 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations established to advocate for common sense, science and statistic based initiatives that will transform our outdated judicial sentencing guidelines by addressing over-criminalization and other aspects of criminal justice badly in need of reform. ACCJR works to create sensible change to state and federal laws and regulations that will improve the social and economic lives of American families.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with ACCJR Spokesman Bernie Kerik, contact Chad Proudlock at 202-341-9171 or email proudlock@accjr.org. Website: http://accjr.org/

 

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ACCJR Supports Ban On Hiring Bias, Urges Further Reform http://accjr.org/accjr-supports-ban-on-hiring-bias/ Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:49:37 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=922

WASHINGTON, D.C. November 2, 2015 – President Obama announced yesterday a new executive order to reduce potential discrimination against former convicts in the hiring process for federal government employees. The White House said the president’s order would take immediate action, mandating that the federal government’s HR department “delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process.”

This executive order is what many criminal justice reformers call “ban the box” – an effort to eliminate requirements that job applicants check a box on their applications if they have a criminal record. This rule has come under recent scrutiny as an obstacle that advances employment discrimination against former inmates, regardless of the severity of their offense or how long ago it occurred. Banning the box delays when employers learn of an applicant’s record.

“I strongly support the President’s effort on the Federal levels for former convicts. This executive order is an important step for former felons and their transition back into society.” American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform spokesman, Bernard Kerik said. “However, it’s time for Congress and the President to consider full rights restoration and the expungement of a felon’s record once they are out of the criminal justice system and are done with their probation or parole. No one should be denied their civil and constitutional rights, and punished for life once they’ve paid their debt to society, Until that happens, we will continue to create a permanent underclass of American citizen, denying them a successful transition back into society and the American workforce.” Kerik concluded.

All three Democratic candidates for president have supported “ban the box” policies on the campaign trail, as has Republican candidate Rand Paul, who has introduced legislation in the Senate with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker to seal criminal records for non-violent offenders. The executive order includes other proposals to prevent discrimination based on criminal history, like helping former prisoners apply for public housing and better funding for legal aid programs.

The American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform 501 c4 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations established to advocate for common sense, science and statistic based initiatives that will transform our outdated judicial sentencing guidelines by addressing over-criminalization and other aspects of criminal justice badly in need of reform. ACCJR works to create sensible change to state and federal laws and regulations that will improve the social and economic lives of American families.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with ACCJR Spokesman Bernie Kerik, contact Chad Proudlock at 202-341-9171 or email proudlock@accjr.org

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White House Symposium on Criminal Justice Reform http://accjr.org/white-house-criminal-justice-reform/ Fri, 23 Oct 2015 21:25:07 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=914 Washington, DC, October 23, 2015 – Bernard Kerik, former New York City Police Commissioner (Retired) and Co-Founder of The American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform joined dozens of police chiefs, federal and state prosecutors, and attorney generals at a panel discussion on criminal justice reform – to discuss the reduction of crime and incarceration rates, with President Obama yesterday at the White House.

The two-hour symposium highlighted the need to reform the American Criminal Justice System while striving to strengthen communities. Coincidentally at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15 to 5 in favor of passing The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 out of committee.

“I was honored to be invited by NYU’s Brennan Center as one of the founding members of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, and to contribute in this national dialogue on this extremely important issue. President Obama’s commitment to bi-partisan reform coupled with his willingness to listen to the experiences of law enforcement leaders speaks volumes to the real possibility of meaningful reform being signed into law. I also applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Chairman Grassley for moving The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, and hope that, it is not the last we hear from this committee on reform in this session,” said Kerik.

Although the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act passed through committee Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is pushing for additional reforms to be included in bi-partisan legislation to update federal sentencing laws. Hatch is calling for “mens rea” reform. Such reforms would combat overcrowding in prisons by making sure that people are not sentenced for crimes they did not know they were committing.

Mens rea is a Latin legal term to describe the mental state of a person must have been in while committing a crime to be found guilty.

“I want to urge the committee to follow Senator Hatch’s lead on tackling additional problems plaguing our system; over criminalization, specifically mens rea and civil asset forfeiture. These two pieces coupled with The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 would dramatically restore some balance to the system and would put an exclamation point on the close to the 114th Congress.” Kerik concluded.

 

The American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform 501 c4 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established to advocate for common sense, science and statistic based initiatives that will transform our outdated judicial sentencing guidelines by addressing over-criminalization and other aspects of criminal justice badly in need of reform. ACCJR works to create sensible change to state and federal laws and regulations that will improve the social and economic lives of American families.

Led by Bernard Kerik, one of the most accomplished leaders in law enforcement, correction, and national security in the United States. His unparalleled achievements as New York City’s Police and Correction Commissioner, and his 30 year career in the criminal justice field, coupled with his later incarceration, has provided Mr. Kerik with a unique and one-of-a kind perspective into the U.S. criminal justice and prison systems.

 

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Contact: Chad Proudlock

Phone: (202) 341-9171

Email: Proudlock@accjr.org

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Bernie Kerik led American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform Supports End of Civic Forfeiture Laws http://accjr.org/bernie-kerik-led-american-coalition-for-criminal-justice-reform-supports-end-of-civic-forfeiture-laws/ Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:30:55 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=908 WASHINGTON, D.C. October 8, 2015 – Bernie Kerik, former New York City Police Commissioner and co-founder of the American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform, commends House members and supports the passing of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform legislation introduced today by House Judiciary Committee Members, Reps. Goodlatte (R-VA- 6), Conyers (D-MI-6), Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5), and Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18).

“This bill helps to repair the integrity of the justice system. As a veteran cop who has worked in law enforcement my entire career, I know that most cops try to do everything right. But, as Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski has said, bad cops and bad prosecutors—those who don’t follow the rules and the law—make the job so much harder for the good ones. Their misconduct diminishes the credibility of all of the good ones—just as rioters diminish opportunities for peaceful protesters,” said Commissioner Bernie Kerik.

Today, our local and federal law enforcement seems little different than Russia or China. Once you become a target of the government—and sometimes even before—overzealous members of law enforcement use Civil Asset Forfeiture to seize your property, whether you’re convicted and it is virtually impossible or too expensive to get your property back. Civil Asset Forfeiture proceedings charge the property itself with involvement in a crime. This means that police can seize your car, home, money, or valuables without ever having to charge you with a crime. For a person to regain their property they need to first file a claim against the government, and then prove that they are innocent, while then having to pay for their own legal counsel. During this process, that individual is also deprived any access to his or her own money and/or property. That is not justice, and that’s not how it is supposed to be.

State and local enforcement agencies get around their own state laws designed to protect property owners through a program called “equitable sharing.” Local law enforcement can then keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds by transferring these proceeds to the federal government.

The abuse of the extraordinary power of local and federal officials to wrongfully and intentionally deprive citizens of their liberty, freedom, and their very lives for political and personal gain is happening daily. Since 2001, this policy has encouraged ‘policing for profit’ which has pulled over nearly 62,000 motorists and have subjected them to searches without warrants and has netted over $2 billion dollars worth of property seized.

“For police, it’s about protecting and serving—keeping our communities safe and enforcing the law according to the Constitution. True reform, smart reform focuses on every American’s Constitutional rights, making our justice system safe, efficient and effective. Years ago I personally worked for and with the feds, and we would not seize a persons personal property until they were convicted of a crime and it was determined that their property was either used in the commission of a crime or purchased as a result of the commission of a crime. This practice of Civil Asset Forfeiture used by law enforcement today is an absolute abuse of power and needs to come to an end,” concluded Kerik.

The American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform 501 c4 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations established to advocate for common sense, science and statistic based initiatives that will transform our outdated judicial sentencing guidelines by addressing over- criminalization and other aspects of criminal justice badly in need of reform. ACCJR works to create sensible change to state and federal laws and regulations that will improve the social and economic lives of American families.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with ACCJR Spokesman Bernie Kerik, contact Chad Proudlock at 202-341-9171 or email proudlock@accjr.org.

 

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Listen: 97.1FM Interview with ACCJR Spokesman Bernie Kerik http://accjr.org/listen-97-1fm-interview-with-accjr-spokesman-bernie-kerik/ Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:21:59 +0000 http://accjr.org/?p=905 Part 1:

 

Part 2:

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