National Weekly Call: August 6, 2-2:30pm EST

Center for Prison Reform National Call Agenda


Wednesday, August 6, 2014 – 2 – 2:30 PM EST

Call-In Number:  (605) 562-3140

Participant code: 408388#

(Note: The call-in number will be the same every week, at the same time)

Next call: Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 2-2:30PM EST




Executive Summary


We will have a call every Wednesday at 2 PM EST regarding the Center for Prison Reform (CPR).  CPR is a non-profit coalition organized to promote rehabilitation for those that are incarcerated.  We are particularly focused on legislation that is in the Senate and sponsored by Senators Portman and Whitehouse. It has passed the Judiciary Committee. We have much work to do in the House of Representatives and also the US Senate in order to ensure this legislation reaches the President’s desk by the end of this calendar year.






The Newsletter starts this week. (website launched on Wednesday, July 16, 2014)


We will be available to take coalition members and allies from the website. There will be a section for newsletter and national update call subscribers. Please check the website for latest information regarding the Portman-Whitehouse legislation and its progress.


We will be adding email addresses, a dedicated phone number, and a PayPal donate button that will go to a merchant banking account in case there are any interested donors. We are a non-profit but donations will not be tax-deductible as a charity donation, as we are mainly focused on lobbying.  We can also recruit Fellows — like Adrian Raines who have done MRI research on the brains of violent criminal, etc.



Social Media

Posting to Social Media starts this week.

We will secure sites and post to the following media: Reddit, Facebook, Twitter. The FB and Twitter sites have been secured and we will hear more today about their use.




Further Resources Needed


We need to develop over the next week a one-page handout on the benefits of the Portman-Whitehouse legislation as a leave-behind for meetings with potential staff and coalition members. We need to gather papers, studies, and surveys that support the case for this new legislation. Many of this research has been identified and placed on the website over the past week.




In the Senate


S.1410 – Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin [IL], focuses on removing the statutory minimum sentence for a number of non-violent crimes. It will also require the Attorney General to report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committee on how the money saved from this Act will in turn be used to mitigate the present p0roblems of overcrowding in federal prisons.



Portman-Whitehouse Legislation


The Portman-Whitehouse legislation combines elements of S. 1783, the Federal Prison Reform Act, introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), along with Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).  It would address this growing problem by building on reforms that have proven successful at the state level.


Among other provisions, this legislation:


  • Requires all eligible offenders to undergo regular risk assessments to determine whether an offender has a low, medium, or high-risk of recidivism.


  • Excludes all sex offenders, terrorism offenders, violent offenders, repeat offenders, major organized crime offenders, and major fraud offenders from participation in the program.


  • Encourages participation in recidivism reduction programs and productive activities, like prison jobs.


  • Contains no new authorized spending, and requires the mandated recidivism reduction programs to be provided by faith-based groups, non-profits, or through savings generated by the legislation.


  • Allows earned time credits for low-risk prisoners of up to 10 days for every 30 days that the prisoner is successfully completing a recidivism reduction program or productive activity.


  • Allows medium risk prisoners to earn a 5 day for 30 day time credit while successfully completing recidivism reduction programs and productive activities. These offenders would only be able to use these credits if they demonstrate a substantial reduction in their probability of recidivism as a result of participation in programs.


  • Does not allow high risk offenders to use any time credits unless they reduce their risk levels to a lower tier.


  • Would allow certain low risk offenders who demonstrate exemplary behavior to spend the final portion of their earned credit time on community supervision.



  1. 1675 Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act of 2014

All Information (except text) Text of Legislation CRS Summary Major Congressional Actions

All Congressional Actions 

All Congressional Actions with Amendments
With links to Congressional Record pages, votes,reports

Titles Cosponsors (8) Committees
Related Bills Amendments
CBO Cost Estimates Subjects


Cosponsors of S. 1675:


Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] – 3/10/2014


Sen Cornyn, John [TX] – 3/10/2014


Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] – 3/10/2014


Sen Lee, Mike [UT] – 3/10/2014


Sen Paul, Rand [KY] – 7/10/2014


Sen Portman, Rob [OH] – 11/13/2013


Sen Rubio, Marco [FL] – 5/14/2014


Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] – 3/10/2014



Senate Action Items


We need to schedule appointments with key Senate offices.

We propose the following list but would like to add to it:


Senator Reid (Majority Leader)

Senator Mitch McConnell (Minority Leader)

Senator Cory Booker (REDEEM Act)

Senator Rand Paul (REDEEM Act)


Meetings are being arranged to start on next Tuesday, July 29th.  Please let Edwina Rogers know if you want to attend any of these meetings.  She can be reached at


There are items that need correcting in the Senate bill like the fraud exception.


Senator Durbinemail sent to Senator Durbin’s scheduler 8/4/14




US House of Representatives


House Bill HR 2656 is the house counterpart bill.  The Public Safety Enhancement Act of 2013.  Bill Sponsors:  Rep. Chaffetz, et al. There are 25 cosponsors (14 D and 11 R).  In the House Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.  The bill will enhance public safety by improving the effective and efficiency of the Federal prison system with offender risk and needs assessments, individual risk reduction incentives and rewards, and risk and recidivism reduction.


Co-Sponsors are:  Howard Coble, John Conyers, Hakeem Jeffries, Tom Marino, dam Schiff, Robby Scott, Tony Cardenas, Henry Johnson, Steve Cohen, Alan Lowenthal, Eleanor Norton, Beto O’Rourke, Marc Veasey, Spencer Bachus, Theodore Deutch, Richard Hanna, Ted Poe, Judy Chu, Jerroid Nadler, Susan Brooks, Trey Gowdy, Rob Bishop, Paul Ryan, Blake Farenthold, Raul Labrador.




House Judiciary Committee

Majority (Republicans) Minority (Democrats)




House Leadership

We need to determine the level of interest shown by the current Republican and Democratic leadership in the House.

House Action Items

House Committee on the Judiciary – meetings requested:

– email sent to Joseph Russo 8/4/14

– email sent to Shelley Husband 8/4/14

– email sent to Maggie Littlewood 8/4/14

– email sent to Carrie Meadows 8/4/14


Executive Branch

The US Sentencing Commission decided last week to make almost 50,000 federal prisoners, convicted of non-violent crimes, eligible for reduced sentences. This was met with some resistance by Prosecutors who feared reopening more cases would overcrowd the courts.


The White House is already working on prison reforms through its drug policy reforms ( and the Second Chance Act (

US Sentencing Commission – email sent to USSC Office of Public Affairs 8/4/14, inviting them to join us on a Wednesday call, and to set an appointment for a meeting.


Coalition Building

We need to quickly secure as many members as possible for this reform coalition. We should focus on faith-based groups, minority groups, rehabilitation service providers and professionals, family advocacy groups, suicide prevention groups, and so on.


Potential Coalition Members

ACLU ( – joined

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( – email sent to Trevor Summerfield, Manager of Federal Policy 8/4/14

Aleph Institute (Rabbi Aaron Lipskar) – joined

Bella and Stella Foundation (Lloyd Rubin) – joined

Human Rights Defense Center (Paul Wright) – joined

Right on Crime ( – email sent to Marc Levin, Policy Director 8/4/14

Legal Action Center ( – email sent to Gabrielle de la Gueronnere, Director for National Policy 8/4/14

SF BayView (

NAACP ( – email sent to Hilary Shelton, Senior VP for Advocacy 8/4/14

Massachusetts State Harm Reduction Coalition (

Federal Cure (

National Cure (

National Council of La Raza ( – email sent to Eric Rodriguez & Clarissa Martinez de Castro, VP & Deputy VP Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation 8/4/14

Safe Street Arts Foundation ( – email sent to Dennis Sobin 8/4/14


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