In 2015, the Southern Center for Human Rights launched a new campaign to secure the release of people serving extremely long sentences for drug charges. SCHR has found that as a result of the War on Drugs, there are many people, mostly African American, who are serving sentences that far exceed the nature of their crime.
SCHR recently represented Charlie Scandrett, a 56 year old African American man, who had served 18 years in prison for possession of cocaine in 1997 on a recidivist statue. As a result of this advocacy, on July 7, 2015 Mr. Scandrett was resentenced to time served and immediately released from prison and allowed to return home to his family. Before signing the order, the judge declared, “while the sentence appears to be proper and legal, it is not right.”
Earlier this year, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 328, which allows for parole eligibility for some individuals sentenced to life without parole for drug crimes. However, some people, like Mr. Scandrett, serving time for low-level drug offenses were left out of the new reforms. Fortunately, the Criminal Justice Reform Council is looking into correcting that to ensure that the very people the law was created to help do not slip through the cracks.
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