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The National Association of Social Workers Commends the Department of Justice on the Smart on Crime Initiative

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) commends Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the August 12, 2013 announcement of the Smart on Crime initiative.  Among other things, the initiative proposes to end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders and prioritize more appropriate alternative sentencing, such as drug rehabilitation programs. The Smart on Crime initiative also seeks to reduce unjust sentences for some inmates facing extraordinary circumstances who pose no threat to public safety.

The Smart on Crime initiative is one of the most significant proposals put forth by DOJ to reform the nation’s troubled criminal justice system. NASW, in partnership with other organizations, has been a consistent voice in advocating for major changes to a justice system that has failed to distinguish between dangerous criminals and non-violent men and women in its sentencing practices. This lack of distinction has resulted in draconian punishment that has destroyed far too many lives and costs the nation tens of billions of dollars every year.

Unfair sentencing disparities have created a complex matrix of collateral consequences that condemns millions of African Americans, Latinos, and low-income Whites to long-term unemployment or marginal low-paying jobs because of their non-violent drug convictions. These sentencing policies and their secondary results have made reintegration into society difficult and have led to high re-arrests and recidivism rates.

NASW is pleased that DOJ focused its reforms on the misguided mandatory minimum sentences which have been in place for over 25 years and have effectively “tied the hands” of judges when  sentencing offenders. NASW is similarly pleased that the Obama administration is keeping its promise to take a public health approach to drug policy—diverting substance abusers to treatment programs—instead of warehousing them in prisons and jails

In collaboration with other organizations, NASW looks forward to working with the Department of Justice in the implementation of these important policies.


Melvin H. Wilson, LCSW, MBA
Manager, Department of Social Justice and Human Rights


  1. I am a member of NASW and have been since 1990. I am also a military veteran and work for company called Symptom Media.
    We offer a partial solution to what you are addressing via better education about Mental Illnesses through visual learning. Since many individuals placed prisons have mental health issues not identified. Or only after people are imprisoned. Symptom Media offers Visual Learning Tools to more effectively identify Mental Health Issues. One of a kind and fairly new on market. I would appreciate a conversation with someone regarding how we think these films help folks get identified, then appropriate treatment vs imprisonment.
    Thank you for your consideration,
    EVP, Biz Dev
    MSW,ACSW, Major USAF (ret)

  2. Hello my name is Jennifer and I am a properly diagnosed and medicated person with bi polar. I’m also a student majoring in social work. I would like to view this video you are mentioning and give you feed back. My goal is to work in the probation or parol field to help ex cons read apt and succeed in society

  3. Hello my name is Hazel. I am a member of NASW and have been many years. I am also a LMSW. i am in private practice and have been since 1990. I would like to view you video. I work with ex cons.

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