Dream Corps

Our Programs: Our Impact: Federal Justice Reform

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Dream Corps

Our Programs: Our Impact: Federal Justice Reform

Building off the progress of the historic First Step Act, our team is working alongside the Empathy Network, our Federal Advisory Council, and partners nationwide to reform the federal criminal justice system and bring people home.  

In 2021, our goals are to:

  • #KeepThemHome: Secure clemency for the +4,000 people on CARES Act home confinement
  • Sign the EQUAL Act into Law: Eliminate the unjust sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine
  • Pass Bipartisan Justice Reform: Build support behind the bipartisan legislative package to reduce the number of people in federal prison and bring more fairness to federal sentencing laws



STEP 1: #KeepThemHome: Call The White House & Stop Federal Prison Expansion 

More than 4,000 people were approved to finish out their sentences from home due to COVID-19. Over the past year, they’ve started jobs, enrolled in career courses, and reunited with their families. Now, the Biden Administration is planning to send them back to prison. 

Dream Corps JUSTICE is working with FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) and other partners across the country to demand President Biden use his clemency authority to ensure that families stay together. Read our letter to President Biden.

STEP 2: Tell Congress to Pass The EQUAL Act 

Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug, yet penalties for the possession of crack are 18 times longer than those for people caught with the drug in its powder form. The disparity is unjust, nonsensical, and racist, and it must end. The “Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law” (EQUAL) Act would create 1:1 penalties for crack and powder cocaine, bringing thousands home from prison, and shortening future sentences. Watch the recap feat. Killer Mike, Los Angeles DA George Gascón, and others: 50 Years of Injustice—End The War on Drugs.

STEP 3: Pass The Bipartisan Criminal Justice Package

Both parties created mass incarceration, and we need bipartisan criminal justice solutions to end it. The 2021 bipartisan criminal justice package led by Senator Durbin and Senator Grassley includes 3 bills Dream Corps strongly supports and is fighting for: 

Together, these bills will reduce long and unjust sentences, bring thousands of people home, and encourage alternatives to incarceration. Scroll down to read more.

 Meet Our Federal Advisory Council

Our Federal Advisory Council is made up of leaders across the country personally impacted by the federal justice system. Together, they inform and guide our legislative priorities and work alongside us to advocate for reform from Congress and the Biden Administration. To connect with or schedule an interview with a member of the Federal Advisory Council, contact [email protected]

Ongoing Federal Legislative Priorities

Reverse Mass Incarceration Act

Summary: A new $20 billion dollar grant program to incentivize states to decrease the number of people incarcerated in state prisons and to lower crime rates in the state. Money spent under this bill goes to both public and private programs that decrease incarceration and crime. This bill is called the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act because it is the opposite of the incentives under the 1994 crime bill.

Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

Summary: Would end the practice of judges increasing sentences based on conduct for which a person has been *acquitted* by a jury. Amazingly, federal judges can still increase peoples’ sentences for crimes they were originally charged with, even when they are acquitted.

Smarter Sentencing Act

Summary: This bill would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, and would allow those sentenced prior to the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act to petition to have their sentences reduced. It would reduce 15 year mandatory minimum sentences to 10 years, 10 year mandatory minimum sentences to 5 years, and 5 year mandatory minimum sentences to 2 years.

Safer Detention Act 

Summary: The COVID-19 Safer Detention Act would improve programs that let terminally ill people behind bars finish their sentences from home.

Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act

Summary: This bill would eliminate the presumption of pretrial detention for most federal drug offenses, and allow judges more discretion on pretrial detention for drug charges. 

Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act

Summary: This bill would train correctional officers on how to handle victims of trauma, make telephone calls and video-conferencing free for incarcerated people, provide health products free for incarcerated people, restrict employees from entering restrooms of incarcerated people of the opposite sex in most circumstances, and create an overnight visit program for children and parents. We have passed many similar bills at the state level through our Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign.

First Step Act Implementation 

Summary: The 2018 First Step Act helped get people out of prison through sentencing reforms, enhanced anti-recidivism programming to further education and train people for jobs, and improved conditions in federal prisons for incarcerated people. This bill requires additional funding to help more people get ready for reentry, and also requires reforms to fix some remaining issues regarding sentencing reforms.  

George Floyd Justice In Policing Act

Summary: This bill ensures prosecution of constitutional violations by law enforcement, creates a registry for complaints and records of police misconduct, requires body camera usage and training on implicit bias and racial profiling, bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants in certain cases and redirects funding to community-based policing programs.

Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Oversight

Summary: The BOP confines over 151,000 people and are responsible for ensuring the safety of incarcerated people and facilitating reentry. The federal government can enact significant reforms at BOP, which are especially necessary during the pandemic in which thousands of incarcerated people have become infected and many have died. Dream Corps JUSTICE will play an active role in BOP Oversight hearings over the next few years. 

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