National Weekly Call: September 10, 2-2:30pm EST

Center for Prison Reform National Call Agenda


Wednesday, September 10, 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, September 17, 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 Cornyn, Whitehouse, and Portman. 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. We are also interested in the Smarter Sentencing Act and other legislation with substantive evidence based reforms.



Coalition Building


Please list us as a resource on your website (


If your organization or your allies want to participate in our coalition, please do so at


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.


Coalition Members

o   Jesselyn McCurdy –


  • Aleph Institute

o   Rabbi Aaron Lipskar –


o   Trevor Summerfield –


  • Bella and Stella Foundation

o   Lloyd Rubin –


  • Human Rights Defense Center

o   Paul Wright –


o   Gabrielle de la Gueronniere –


o   Marc Levin –


Potential Coalition Members



  • Brennan Center for Justice ( – contacted







  • The Heritage Foundation (SEPARATE from the Justice Fellowship) – contacted




  • JustFaith Ministries ( – contacted





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


  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers ( – contacted


  • 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




  • The Pew Charitable Trusts – Public Safety Performance Project – contacted



  • Public Welfare Foundation – contacted


  • State Prison Bureaus

o   Alaska Department of Corrections – contacted

o   Michigan Department of Corrections – contacted

o   New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services – contacted

  • Texas Public Policy Foundation – contacted

Website (website launched on Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

We are available to take coalition participants and allies from the website. There is a section for newsletters and national update call subscribers. Please check the website for latest information regarding the Cornyn-Whitehouse-Portman legislation and its progress and other reform legislation.

The Center for Prison Reform’s Newsletter is available at

Donate to Center for Prison Reform via PayPal or credit card

Social Media

We have secured sites and are posting to the following media: Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter.

Facebook: (

Twitter: (

Further Resources

We have developed a one page document for Republicans (Why Prison Reform?).

Please find attached a Letter of Endorsement for your group or organization to approve.

Please find Dr. Nancy G. La’s (The Urban Institute) Statement to the House Judiciary Committee on July 15, 2014, at:

The Urban Institute’s Report – “Stemming the Tide: Strategies to Reduce the Growth and Cut the Cost of the Federal Prison System”:

In the Senate

Senate Judiciary Committee

Majority (Democrat) Minority (Republican)
Patrick Leahy, Vermont, Chariman(113th) Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Ranking Member
Dianne Feinstein, California Orrin Hatch, Utah
Chuck Schumer, New York Jeff Sessions, Alabama
Dick Durbin, Illinois Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
Sheldon Whitehouse,  Rhode Island John Cornyn, Texas
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Mike Lee, Utah
Al Franken, Minnesota Ted Cruz, Texas
Chris Coons, Delaware Jeff Flake, Arizona
Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Mazie Hirono, Hawaii
  1. 1410 Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014

There are now 32 US Senators co-sponsoring the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014 (S. 1410), sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin [IL], which focuses on removing the statutory minimum sentence for a number of non-violent crimes. There are also 50 members of the US House co-sponsoring the House version of the bill (H.R. 3382). 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 problems of overcrowding in federal prisons.

Cornyn-Whitehouse-Portman Legislation

  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

The Cornyn-Whitehouse-Portman 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.

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 Harry Reid (D), Majority Leader – contacted 8/11/14

Senator Mitch McConnell (R), Minority Leader – contacted 8/11/14

Senator Cory Booker (D), REDEEM Act – Edwina met with Danny Smith on 8/12/2014

Senator Rand Paul (R), REDEEM Act – Edwina met with Billy Easley on 9/2/2014

Senate Judiciary Committee

– Chuck Grassley (R), Ranking Member

– Orrin G. Hatch (R) – Edwina met with Jennifer Henderson on 8/28/2014

– Jeff Sessions (R) – Edwina met with Rachael Tucker on 8/28/2014

– John Cornyn (R) – meeting scheduled with Stephen Tausend on 9/3/2014 at 11:00 AM

– Michael S. Lee (R) – contacted 8/11/14

– Sheldon Whitehouse (D) – Edwina met with Michael Fisher on 8/12/2014

– Lindsey Graham (R) – Edwina met with David Glaccum and Sergio Sarkany on 9/2/2014

– Ted Cruz (R) – Edwina is seeking a meeting with Senator Cruz

                – Jeff Flake (R) – Edwina is meeting with Gary Barnett, Senator Flake’s staff on 9/12/2014

Please let Edwina Rogers know if you want to attend any of these meetings.  She can be reached at

US House of Representatives

House Judiciary Committee

Majority (Republicans) Minority (Democrats)
Bob Goodlate, Virginia, Chairman (113th) John Conyers, Michigan, Ranking Member
Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Jerrold Nadler, New York
Howard Coble, North Carolina Bobby Scott, Virginia
Lamar S. Smith, Texas, Former Chairman (112th) Mel Watt, North Carolina
Steve Chabot, Ohio Zoe Lofgren, California
Spencer Bachus, Alabama Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Darrell Issa, California Steve Cohen, Tennessee
Randy Forbes, Virginia Hank Johnson, Georgia
Steve King, Iowa Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico
Trent Franks, Arizona Judy Chu, California
Louie Gohmert, Texas Ted Deutch, Florida
Jim Jordan, Ohio Luis Gutierrez, Illinois
Ted Poe, Texas Karen Bass, California
Jason Chaffetz, Utah Cedric Richmond, Louisiana
Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Suzan DelBene, Washington
Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Joe Garcia, Florida
Mark Amodei, Nevada Hakeem Jeffries, New York
Raúl Labrador, Idaho David Cicilline, Rhode Island
Blake Farenthold, Texas
George Holding, North Carolina
Doug Collins, Georgia
Ron DeSantis, Florida
Jason T. Smith, Missouri

H.R. 2656 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 Leadership

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

Appointments for meetings with House of Representatives are currently being sought.

Representative Raul Labrador (R), cosponsor of Smarter Sentencing Act

Had a meeting with Vanessa Chen on Thursday 8/7/2014

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), cosponsor of Public Safety Enhancement Act HR 2656

                (202) 225-7751 – Edwina is seeking a meeting with Congressman Chaffetz

Representative Darrell Issa – Edwina is seeking a meeting with Congressman Issa

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 (

White House

– Domestic Policy Council

– Office of Public Affairs

– Office of Legislative Affairs

Department of Justice, Office of Legislative Affairs

Bureau of Prisons (public or legislative affairs office)

Judicial Branch

US Sentencing Commission 

The Commission Staff is holding a briefing for the sentencing advocacy community on their priorities for the 2014-15 Amendment Cycle. This is not a meeting on amendment-specific proposals, but rather an opportunity to speak generally with staff on the Commission’s new priorities.

The briefing on the priorities took place on Wednesday, September 3 at 1:00 p.m. at the Commission’s offices at the Thurgood Marshall Judiciary Building, One Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2500, Washington, DC 20002.

The Sentencing Commission’s Final Priorities List is attached.

Summary: The public support and outcry on the comments helped a lot with regard to the amendments earlier this summer concerning drugs. Congress has until November 1 to disapprove of the US Sentencing Commission’s actions because they made the amendments retroactive – there could be attacks from the new Congress.

The commission gave testimony before the House and the Senate, and presented a letter to Congress regarding the mandatory minimum sentences.  The commission thinks that the Smarter Sentencing Act should pass, be retroactive, and have a larger safety valve.

There is currently not enough support within the commission to move away completely from mandatory minimum sentences. Guidelines are now advisory, and they can vary widely by the judge.

The Commission would like to see congress address the conspiracy matter. And the Commission would like to see more work done on the risk assessment legislation.

The sentencing format says that family circumstances are not to be taken into account but the advisory guidelines allow for family circumstances to be considered.

There is a report to Congress due the end of August 2015, on any cost-savings from the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The commission will only report on beds. The Commission will not have a big amendment for a while like it just had on drugs. The new focus at the Commission is economic crime. Commission held a symposium last fall on economic crimes.

They will be coming up with a new proposal and request comment. The staff has spent a lot of time researching these matters in 2014. The proposed amendments should be available in January.

The commission has an ongoing study on recidivism; this is a federal data story. They will report in 2015 via a series of publications.

The research will include bail, sentencing, release, and reentry. They will look at risk assessments along time. This will be consistent with the SRA. They will be looking at what other countries are doing but will not conduct original research with other countries’ data.

The Commission will look at definition issues like “crimes of violence” and “aggravated felony”.

The Commission will consider amendments or recommendations to Congress to make sentencing more uniform. The Commission just put out for comments amendments concerning Indian tribes, and whether tribal convictions should be counted by the federal system.

The Commission does not plan to act on the child pornography issue in 2015. The commission will look at mitigating roles and violations of probation, and will expect recommendations this year.

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