1. Press Release
  2. Criminal Justice

Capitol Hill Spring Break Destination for 400 Young Adults Pushing Criminal Justice Reform to #UnlockJustice

By Amelia Kegan, Jim Cason, March 14, 2016

More than 400 young adults from 36 states are passing up Spring Break vacations this year to come to Washington to lobby Congress to pass criminal justice reform legislation.

The 73-year-old Quaker lobby FCNL has brought together young adults from many different faiths and backgrounds to learn and then lobby for legislation that could provide the first significant sentencing reform bill in a generation.

“This country's failed drug policies and system of mass incarceration have perverted the very system that's supposed to represent justice,” explained Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “Across the country, young people see the injustice of our mass incarceration system. Moved by personal experiences, by their faith and a passion for justice, they've come to Washington sensing an opportunity for change. This is the largest Spring Lobby Weekend we've ever had. With the bipartisan sentencing reform and prison reform bills up in the House and Senate, Congress can deliver right now.”

Bipartisan legislation pending in the House and Senate reduces mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses, promotes and incentivizes programming for individuals while incarcerated so they are better equipped to reenter society upon leaving prison, and includes meaningful juvenile justice reforms. These bills, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), the Sentencing Reform Act (HR. 3713), and the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act (H.R. 759) have strong bipartisan support and are ready for floor action.

“In my home town heroin is a major issue because of effects of drug smuggling and drug abuse," explained Nick Latessa, one of the participants from Ohio. “In our society we need to build and rehabilitate these people not just denigrate them down to the lower parts of society.” Another participant from New Mexico explains why he is here: “I myself have been incarcerated, I've had friends and family incarcerated, and I work with "at-risk" youth at a small private school.”

FCNL's Spring Lobby Weekend participants spent the weekend sharing their stories and learning about criminal justice reform. On Tuesday, they head to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress, urging co-sponsorship and passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), the Sentencing Reform Act (HR. 3713), and the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act (H.R. 759) For more information, please visit www.fcnl.org/slw

Amelia Kegan

  • Legislative Director, Domestic Policy

Amelia Kegan leads the domestic policy team's work in analyzing legislation, advocating on Capitol Hill, and developing legislative strategy. Prior to coming to FCNL, Amelia worked at a variety of other national non-profits in D.C. and Chicago, focusing on federal budget, tax, and low-income policy.

Jim Cason

  • Associate General Secretary for Strategic Advocacy

Jim Cason is responsible for directing the full range of FCNL’s strategic advocacy work. In this capacity, he works with program staff to develop long term change strategies that accomplish our particular legislative goals.