Historically, harsh marijuana sentences unfairly target minorities. Even with decriminalization and legalization in a number of states, minorities are still drawing more attention than non-minorities when it comes to marijuana law enforcement. That is something the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is trying to change. Since October 2015, the organization has been actively collecting signatures to petition Congress to pass SB 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. To date, they have collected 34,732 signatures of the 35,000 needed! The above graphics illustrate statistics compiled by the ACLU pertaining to economic and social costs of marijuana law enforcement and incarcerations.
“Marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana.”
The American Civil Liberties Union
For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The ACLU is front and center in the movement to reform the criminal justice system. A major component of their current priorities is their fight to decriminalize marijuana and reverse sentences of those given harsh sentences for marijuana possession. They are also advocating major criminal justice legislation in Congress, namely the SB 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, which is introduced by Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-IA) on October 1, 2015. The bill was assigned to a judiciary committee with a subtitle amendment on October 26, 2015. It is unknown whether it will ever graduate out of committee.
In an effort to rally support of their efforts to get SB2123 passed, the ACLU is appealing to the public to sign a petition in favor of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. As one of the most comprehensive criminal justice reform bills to be considered by Congress in the last five years, the legislation will essentially ban juvenile solitary confinement in the federal system and retroactively reduce overly harsh drug sentences.