NHCSL - National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators rhina@nhcsl.org 202 434 8070
NHCSL is the preeminent organization serving and representing the interests of Hispanic state legislators from all states, commonwealths, and territories of the United States. Our mission is to serve as a catalyst for joint action on issues of common concern to all segments of the Hispanic community; a forum for information exchange and member networking; an institute for leadership training; a liaison with sister U.S. NHCSL - National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators http://nhcsl.org/img/layout/logo.png US United States Washington 20001 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 40

Resolutions

NHCSL Resolutions 2016
2016-10
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE A. RODELLA (NM)
LAW & CRIMINAL JUSTICE TASK FORCE
DISPARITY IN CRIMINAL SENTENCES AND TIME SERVED IN PRISON FOR INDIVIDUALS CONVICTED IN FEDERAL COURTS VERSUS STATE COURTS, AND THE IMPACT ON NATIVE AMERICANS AND PEOPLE OF COLOR

WHEREAS, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) has always been committed to the fair treatment of all people and also to the notion that criminal sentences should be proportional to the crime committed, in other words, the sentence should fit the crime; and

WHEREAS, the duration of federal court sentences and state court sentences based on the same criminal conduct can vary greatly; and

WHEREAS, federal court sentences are often longer than state court sentences for a number of reasons, including mandatory minimum sentences for many crimes adjudicated in federal courts; and

WHEREAS, for certain crimes, federal law requires mandatory minimum prison terms be served consecutively, called "stacking", not concurrently, with each other and with any other punishment the person receives for the underlying offense, which results in lengthy sentences; and

WHEREAS, in many states, courts have the ability to have sentences run concurrently or consecutively depending on the crime, prior infractions and aggravating or mitigating circumstances; and

WHEREAS, earned meritorious deductions in prison time, also known as "good time", in many cases will reduce a person's jail time more in a state prison than in a federal prison; and

WHEREAS, state judges often impose either a deferred sentence or a conditional discharge, which means the person convicted spends little or even no time in jail, provided the defendant successfully completes all of the terms of probation; and

WHEREAS, although the federal criminal justice system does offer pretrial diversion for certain offenders, it is underutilized and it is unavailable for certain crimes involving controlled substances; and

WHEREAS, criminal jurisdiction, which controls the court in which a case will be heard, for crimes committed on Native American reservation or trust land depends on where the crime occurred, who the perpetrator was and who the victim was; and

WHEREAS, for the most part, if a crime occurs on reservation or trust land and either the perpetrator or the victim is Native American, the case will go to federal court; and

WHEREAS, for crimes on reservation or trust land, if both the perpetrator and the victim are non-Native American, the case will be heard in state court; and

WHEREAS, this idiosyncrasy in jurisdictional jurisprudence leads to a situation in which Native Americans convicted of a crime are more likely to go to federal court than a non-Native American convicted of the same crime; and

WHEREAS, for those individuals from states in which there are no federal prisons, like New Mexico, the travel to visit a prisoner is an additional hardship for family, friends and the inmate;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) calls upon the Members of Congress of the United States to enact legislation promptly to address the disparity in criminal sentences and time served in prison for individuals convicted in federal courts versus state courts, and the impact on Native Americans and people of color; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NHCSL send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, Members of Congress, and the Commissioners of the United States Sentencing Commission.

THIS RESOLUTION WAS ADOPTED ON AUGUST 11, 2016, AT THE NHCSL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE & BUSINESS BOARD OF ADVISORS MEETING HELD IN CHICAGO, IL.

Sponsored by: Representative Debbie A. Rodella (NM)

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