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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 17 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

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John Oliver attacks harmful mandatory minimum laws

by Rachel Gandy, July 28, 2015

On Sunday, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver tackled another pressing criminal justice issue: the troubling practice of mandatory minimums. Oliver’s 15-minute segment reveals that incarcerated people and their families aren’t alone in their fight against mandatory minimums. Even the policymakers who first created these sentences and the judges who have to hand them down think that such harsh penalties are ineffective.

Occasional pardons may bring relief to some, but without a system-wide, retroactive change to sentencing laws, mandatory minimums will continue to do “way more harm than good.”

For related Last Week Tonight clips, see Oliver’s segments on U.S. prisons, police militarization, judicial elections, municipal violations, and bail and private police.



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