WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- He served as a correctional officer and labor activist in the federal Bureau of Prisons for 21 years. He's the youngest President ever elected in the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council of Prisons Locals (CPL). He's also the first African American to serve in this position. To add to his already impressive resume, Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) today honored CPL President Eric Young for his pioneering work in prison reform and civil rights at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast.
Young was selected for his work on reforming harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws, improving officer and inmate safety, and efforts to bring the law enforcement community and civil rights community together to solve longstanding issues at the Bureau of Prisons. He hopes this recognition will bring more attention to the cause of making our prisons and our nation as a whole safer and more just for all Americans.
"Supporting sentencing reform is a must. It's just the right thing to do," Young said. "Legislators were afraid to support reducing penalties, because they didn't want to appear weak on crime. This prevented meaningful reform for decades. I was proud to put this issue on the map in our union, and even prouder of all my colleagues, who coalesced on this issue and lobbied Congress to make it a reality."
For Young, changing sentencing laws and advocating for prison reforms are more than just pragmatic solutions to longstanding problems.
"Sentencing reform is a moral issue," said Young. "America now spends more than $80 billion annually to incarcerate more than two million people in our nation's prisons. The results are crowded and violent prisons, a booming private prison industry lobbying to keep prisons bursting at the seams. These policies produce broken families and devastate communities. Because of draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws, our country incarcerates more people than any other industrialized nation, including high numbers of nonviolent first-time offenders. The United States has always lauded the importance of a strong family structure to ensure our children's success, but this is impossible when so many parents are incarcerated."
AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr., a past NAN honoree, praised Young's commitment to civil rights and law enforcement.
"Eric Young has led the Council of Prison Locals with distinction, using his passion for people not only to make prisons safer for our correctional officers, but also to stand strong for civil rights and economic justice throughout the nation. AFGE is proud that Eric has been recognized with this honor. AFGE will continue to support Eric's work in bringing law enforcement and civil rights communities together to build a more just, secure nation for our families."
NAN is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the nation with over 80 chapters across the country. The group works extensively to promote a modern civil rights agenda which includes one standard of decency for all people, social justice for all communities, educational equity, non-violence, equality in healthcare and improvement of race relations.
The awards were presented on Monday, January 18 at 8:30 AM, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including 39,000 workers in the Bureau of Prisons.
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SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees