Athletes and entertainers urged to use their platforms to advocate for social justice

Members of the #cut50 panel on criminal justice reform stressed the power of personal stories to spark change and create allies. (photo by Artists & Athletes Alliance)

UCLA co-presented panel discussion with CNN commentator Van Jones and other advocates

Putting people before politics is necessary to get things done, emphasized members of a panel of criminal justice reform activists who helped shepherd the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act through Congress, with the president’s support, and into law.

The act, which passed with overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress in December, is a small but important initial move toward lowering the number of people incarcerated in the United States — where more people are incarcerated than anywhere in the world. The FIRST STEP Act shortens mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Additionally, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, it eases a federal “three strikes” rule and the act expands the “drug safety-valve,” which would give judges more discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums when sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses.

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