Maryland’s 8th District

For Immediate Release

July 14, 2015

CONTACT:   Bridgett Frey – 202-225-5384

Ian Jannetta – 202-225-1527

Van Hollen Statement on President Obama’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

Washington, DCToday Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen released the following statement after President Obama outlined plans to reform our criminal justice system at the 106th NAACP Annual Convention:

“President Obama’s renewed call to reform our criminal justice system comes at a time when it couldn’t be clearer that the current system does not serve the needs of our country. The fact that we have so many Americans, especially minorities, imprisoned today for nonviolent drug offenses is a national scandal. Since the infancy of the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ the federal prison population has grown by 800 percent. As a result of these failed policies, hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart and whole generations of children have grown up without a parent at home. I believe it has been a fundamental mistake to treat the war on drugs as a criminal justice issue as opposed to a public health issue. We must also redouble our efforts to grow the economy with more broadly shared prosperity and lift up communities in Maryland and across the country that suffer from a lack of opportunity.

“We need to address this with a real sense of urgency, and finally prioritize locking up violent offenders and career criminals instead of nonviolent offenders. I am proud to be a cosponsor of the SAFE Justice Act, comprehensive, bipartisan legislation which will prevent overcrowding in our prisons, save taxpayer money and provide more resources for other law enforcement activities, and address many of the racial injustices that have occurred under the current system.”