In response to the Justice Department finalizing the release of roughly 6,000 federal inmates, Amnesty International USA executive director, Steven W. Hawkins, released the following statement:
“A wide range of human rights reforms are needed to address mass incarceration. Federal prisons are just one piece of the complicated mass incarceration puzzle. Sentencing laws, mandatory minimums, racial discrimination, juvenile imprisonment at the state and federal level along with immigration detention have all contributed to the U.S.’s staggering incarceration numbers and no one solution will solve this problem.
“The US government must meet its obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all people, without discrimination and without further delay. Today’s important step has to be the beginning of reform, not the end.”
While the United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for nearly 22 percent of the world’s prison population, with over 2 million people held in adult prisons and jails.
Amnesty International USA has called on the administration and Congress to create and fund the National Crime and Justice Task Force, a national commission on comprehensive criminal justice reform to create a strategy, goals and timeline for reform in line with human rights standards. President Obama and Congress can end mass incarceration by bringing the US criminal justice system into full compliance of those human rights standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.