Thursday, December 29, 2016

Daily Action: Countable/Speaking Out Against Mandatory Sentences

Friends, I love the app Countable. Today, I'm going to show you how you can use the app to make your voice heard to your representatives, especially in regards to a bill requiring mandatory sentences that is making it's way through Congress right now. (You can also use the desktop version as well for the following steps.)

 When you first download the app, after inserting your preferences for what topics/bills you would like to see come up in your feed, you'll have access to scroll through bills that are currently pending in Congress. 

The bill we are going to be focusing on today is Senate Bill 1762, which is attempting to make into law a five year mandatory prison sentence for anyone who re-enters the U.S. illegally.

Once you select the bill, it will open to a page where you can view all the details, as well as a summary of bill listed on the top of the page.

As you scroll down, you'll see arguments for Yea, Nay, and further details.

In the details section, you can see who is the sponsor of this bill, what the bill number is. and a cost breakdown of the legislation.

You'll also be able to read on the impact of the bill, as well as a further description of the bill.

For Senate Bill 1762, the description offers us a chance to see what the mandatory sentences would entail.

A explanation for why the bill came to be is often included:

There are also further links to news stories regarding the bill, and it's official title.

Finally, you can see where the bill is at in Congress. 

After reading all the details, if you'd like to express your opinion, you can select the Yea or Nay options at the top of the screen. I selected Nay, and the next screen prompted me to add my opinion. This part is optional, as your response will be sent to your representatives with or without your adding an opinion. You can also send a video message if you prefer.

Not sure who your reps are? Once you've logged into the app, you'll need to input some of your personal details (like your address if you live in an area with lots of districts), or just a general area. Your representatives will then appear under the Account tab.

If I click on Dick Durbin, the below screen pops up with his photo, phone number, as well as his Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and official website. It also shows me exactly how he's voted on any previous issues, and where those bills are currently at in the process.

If you're curious to see if I ever actually hear back from my reps regarding issues, I do, and on a regular basis, too! Below is an email that Sen. Durbin sent to me after I expressed displeasure in the nominee for Secretary of Education:

 Friends, I highly encourage you to download this app, or just use the desktop version if you prefer. Either way, if you are as horrified as I am regarding the policy of mandatory sentencing, I ask that you please contact your representatives to express your displeasure in this bill, and encourage them to vote against it when the time comes. If you're curious as to the damage that mandatory sentences do to communities and the US as a whole, I recommend checking out the documentary 13TH, directed by Ava DuVernay.