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Prison Reforms for Drug Offenders Split Christian Leaders

Prison Fellowship and NAE favor new policies. Southern Baptists' ethics commission disagrees.
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New plans to put fewer drug offenders in federal prisons have received mixed reviews among Christian leaders.

Attorney general Eric Holder's announcement this week to reform mandatory prison sentences for low-level drug offenders has the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission shaking its head.

Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy, disapproves of Holder's plan, which would no longer charge "low-level, nonviolent drug offenders ... with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences." Holder has called the policies "unfair."

According to Baptist Press (BP), Duke says the policies, although severe, originally were introduced to alleviate subjectivity in the sentencing process. Once the plan is enacted, Duke told BP, "the actions will move us to a greater disparity in sentencing than currently exists as different offices weigh similar offenses differently."

By contrast, both the National Association ...

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January/February
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