It is time this country take criminal justice reform seriously. While I understand that some people need to be in prison, there are literally thousands deserving of a second chance, and all of us are footing the bill both financially and morally. These are our people. It is to our shame that we incarcerate more of our own people than any other nation in the world. The changes at the federal level are just the start. Each state also needs to go about re-examining some of their more extreme sentences, especially those that don't involve murder. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about...Lenny Singleton.
Lenny committed 8 "grab & dash" robberies in a 7 day period while high on alcohol and crack to fund his addiction. He did not have a gun. He did not murder anyone. In fact, no one was even physically injured and no one claimed to be his "victim." He stole less than $550 total and these were his first felonies. He wasn't an habitual criminal or part of a gang. He earned a college degree and served in our Navy before his addiction.
What he needed was some help with his addiction. What he got was 2 Life Sentences plus 100 years with no chance at parole. The judge, without any explanation to Lenny or the courtroom as documented by his court transcripts, sentenced Lenny to more time than repeat violent offenders, rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Lenny would be the first to tell you that he needed to do some time, but he didn't need to have his life completely taken from him. A man who killed 2 people was just sentenced to 33 years in the state that Lenny is incarcerated in. Murderers will walk free while Lenny remains in prison.
While in prison, Lenny works every business day in a position of authority, he lives in the Honor's Dorm, he takes every available class for self-improvement offered, and in his spare time, he has co-authored a book to help others headed down the same path called, "Love Conquers All," now available on Amazon. During the entire 20+ years he has been in prison so far, he has not received a single infraction for anything - very rare for lifers. Lenny is deserving of a second chance.
How does this have an impact on you? Taxpayers will pay well over a million dollars to keep Lenny for the rest of his life - for robbing less than $550 in crimes where no one was physically injured - this makes absolutely no sense on any level. That money would be better spent on rehabilitation services, preventative education or rebuilding infrastructures - anything other than keeping one man, who has already been in prison for over 20 years, who didn't physically injure anyone, who is deserving of a second chance, locked up for life. These types of cases exist all over this country, albeit, that Lenny Singleton's case is possibly one of the worst illustrating sentencing disparity and sentences disproportionate to the crime committed. True criminal justice reform needs to not only happen at the federal level but at the state level too.
Please learn more and sign Lenny Singleton's petition at justice4lenny.org. Justice will not have been served if Lenny dies in prison.