Schr’s Amazon Wish List Helps Welcome Newly Released Clients Back Into Society

30th June, 2017

SCHR is challenging extremely long sentences for low-level drug offenses throughout Georgia. We are having great success winning freedom for our clients, and we need your help to make sure they have the basic supplies they need to successfully transition back into society. These individuals collectively served a total of 200+ years in prison as punishment for possessing a total amount of drugs so small that the drugs would not fill up the palm of an adult’s hand. 

We continue to advocate for the release of people trapped by the legacy of the war on drugs, and we expect to gain the release of more people over the next several years.  

We invite you to help us welcome home our clients with gift baskets made up of essential items they need to successfully transition back into society. Click here to view and purchase items from SCHR’s Wish List on Amazon.com.

 

LWOP Clients

(Pictured L-R: Aron Tuff, Darrin Smith, Charlie Scandrett, Jr., Wilmart Martin, Charles Pritchett, Andre Mims)

(Not Pictured: Christopher Dugger, Jeremiah Johnson, Calvin Mann, Alva Polke) 

 

Background

Harsh drug sentencing laws became the national norm in the 1980s and 1990s, but few states adopted laws as sweeping as Georgia’s. While several states enacted “three strikes” legislation that led to lengthy prison sentences for people with two or more prior felony drug convictions, Georgia opted for a “two strikes” approach that mandated life sentences for people who committed certain drug offenses twice—for example, selling $40 worth of cocaine. A separate recidivist statute eliminated parole for repeat offenders. The combination of the two statutes led to a wave of lengthy, non-paroleable sentences. Recognizing that outdated drug sentencing laws flooded state prisons with nonviolent men and women who posed little to no public safety threat, Georgia lawmakers, as a result of SCHR’s advocacy, successfully passed House Bill 328 in 2015. The statute extends parole consideration to people serving non-paroleable sentences for drug offenses if they meet certain rehabilitative criteria.

In 2016, the legislature expanded HB 328 so that it applies to more people. Though these are smart parole reforms, there is still substantial work to be done. There are still people serving lengthy sentences under laws that have since been repealed. Plus, racial bias in sentencing continues in Georgia. Laws allowing non-paroleable sentences of 40 years or life for drug offenses are still on the books, and such sentences are most often imposed on black defendants, despite white defendants’ eligibility. For example, all the men serving LWOP for drug offenses in Georgia are black. SCHR will continue to challenge these unjust sentences and promote policy reforms driven by fairness and rehabilitation.