Please take a moment to read this memo written in an attempt to shed light upon the minimum mandatory sentencing requirement implemented in the state of Missouri. This mandates all offenders convicted of violent crimes; adolescent first-timer or season career criminal, serve at least eighty-five percent of their sentences before eligibility of parole or release is obtained. Because of the vast increases of Missouri's prison population each year, and the overwhelming majority of prison populations nationwide are disproportionately composed of black males, we are soliciting the help of the public. It is imperative that the community is made aware of the extent to which the 85% mandate has failed in its alleged attempt to mitigate the commission of violent crimes. We must begin taking the steps necessary to bring about its dismissal. Although incarceration is among life's most debilitating tribulations, its affects are not restricted to the imprisoned. Prison is a life altering experience that prisoners share with their families and friends alike. Attempts to improve quality of life made by prisoners returning to society after lengthy prison terms are often met with vehement resistance. However, so often is the case that members of society are deceived into the belief that all is lost and nothing can be done once the gavel drops. No wonder recidivism rates are so high. Contrary to popular belief, prisons are not built to correct or rehabilitate the behaviors of criminals. Prisons are more likely to succeed in dismantling family structures while inflicting prisoners with often irreparable psychological and physical illnesses. The untold truth is that prisons are a multibillion dollar industry rendered even more profitable by legislative promotion like the 85% ordinance. Perhaps the most relevant piece of information I would like to impart in this message is that in the past three years, proposed legislative bills to overturn the 85% law were presented, and each time the proposals came up short by fewer than five votes. The majority of the public was unaware of the fact that they could vote. Your votes and the support for your incarcerated family members by making calls, writing letters, and asking questions play a significant role in bringing about changes in state and federal legislations. Nonetheless, it is my fervent hope that the aforementioned sentiments have been enough to raise the levels of awareness of a political issue critical to so many who are laboring in the efforts of rehabilitating themselves. Support those who yearn to make amends for the wrong they have committed in society, a feat only possible if given the opportunity to make an exodus from prison and return to it sooner rather than later. If for any reason we have fallen short of spurring you into action, let the historic election of Barack Obama, to the once presumed unattainable position of President, serve as a testament to the fact that a collective effort can bring about change, and that anything is possible.
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