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Spring 2016 Sussman Lecture

The Only Bipartisan Issue in Congress: Sentencing Reform

7:00 PM
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center
Drake University

One in every 100 Americans is in prison or jail. That equates to 2.2 million people behind bars, more than any other country in the world.  Why have federal prisons grown by 500% in the past 30 years?

The answer is largely attributable to mandatory minimum sentences, the three-strikes law, and mandatory drug sentences that have filled our prisons with nonviolent offenders. Now, in the most divisive Congress in recent history, this issue is one on which Republicans and Democrats agree: the U.S. needs smarter criminal sentencing policies.

The Harkin Institute welcomed Julie Stewart, president and founder of the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) with a special introduction provided by The Honorable Mark W. Bennett, Senior Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. Through storytelling and national expertise, Ms. Stewart explored with the audience why policy makers as diverse as presidential candidate Ted Cruz to current President Barack Obama support reforming the sentencing laws that have filled America's prisons.  The attendees left this fascinating spring event with a new understanding of the impact of tough-on-crime laws and what our options are to address this epidemic of incarceration.

Fall 2016 Sussman lecture will be announced in August.