Despite recent bipartisan investment in progressive reform of sentencing laws, Attorney General and royal pain Jeff Sessions has instructed his prosecutors to pursue a policy of maximum sentencing, and mandatory minimums.

Here’s what we think you should do about it:

1.  Look up your senator.

2.  Tell them you think Jeff Sessions’ latest instructions are unjust and unethical. Let them know that you fully support criminal justice reform legislation. Tell them that this issue matters to you when you’re considering your vote.

3.  Pass it on.

Lots of folks have been organizing for reform long before this current administration. Here are just a handful of the groups who have been fighting this fight, and who could use your support. Educate yourselves. Donate. Show up.

Families against Mandatory Minimums
The Sentencing Project
Color of Change
Essie Justice Group
Dignity and Power Now


Essie Justice Group
Harnessing the collective power of women with incarcerated loved ones.

Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project has been working for a fair and effective U.S. justice system since 1986.


It’s important to remember that harsh sentencing laws disproportionately affect communities of color, making this an issue of race and power as much as it is about crime and jail.

Here’s a list of recent literature which we think should be mandatory reading to help (mostly white, let’s be honest) folks understand how racism functions in the U.S.. Because knowledge is power. It enables you to be part of the solution. It makes you feel personally empowered to face the work at hand. And when you’re reading masters of the word, such as the authors suggested below, it can also be a terribly enjoyable process.

Between the World and Me | Ta-Nehisi Coates

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness | Michelle Alexander

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America | Michael Eric Dyson

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement | Angela Davis

Does your library have all these books? If not, submit a request to get them added to the catalog.

We have this long history of racism in this country, and as it happens, the criminal justice system has been perhaps the most prominent instrument for administering racism. But the racism doesn’t actually come from the criminal justice system.
— Ta-Nehisi Coates

From Issue 13 - May 15, 2017