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White House Symposium on Criminal Justice Reform

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.




Contact: Chad Proudlock

Phone: (202) 341-9171

Email: Proudlock@accjr.org

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