The Sentencing Project News
January 27, 2015
Race and Justice News
International: Racial Disparities in Incarceration in UK and Australia Exceed Those in United States
Collateral Consequences: Jobseekers with Minor Arrest Records Face Employment Barriers
Criminal Records Produce Widespread Economic Barriers
Books: Bryan Stevenson: "Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done"
Reforms: Justice Department Expands Rules Against Racial Profiling for Federal Law Enforcement, with Major Exceptions
January 21, 2015 (Associated Press)
First Racial-Impact Law Seen as Having Modest Effect in Iowa
After a 2007 report showed that Iowa had the nation's highest disparity for sending blacks to prison, state lawmakers took a novel step: They passed a law requiring analysts to draft "racial-impact statements" on any proposals to create new crimes or tougher penalties.
The governor at the time said the statements would be "an essential tool" to understand how minority communities might be affected before any votes are cast.
A review by The Associated Press shows that the first-in-the-nation law appears to be having a modest effect, helping to defeat some legislation that could have exacerbated disparities and providing a smoother path to passage for measures deemed neutral or beneficial to minorities.
January 15, 2015
Virginia: Governor restores voting rights of more than 5,100 formerly incarcerated individuals
Iowa: Task force fails to fix problems with database of ineligible voters
Minnesota: Minnesota Conversations: Felony Voting
Florida: State legislators and advocates propose automatic rights restoration
Kentucky: Bi-partisan support for voting rights bill in General Assembly
International: Nigerian court upholds the right of citizens in prison to vote in all elections
January 6, 2015 (Al Jazeera America)
Old age in the big house
It’s time for George Hall to come to the conference room, so he puts down his headphones and pivots his wheelchair away from the Brothers word processor he’s been using all morning to work on a friend’s legal brief. He navigates out of his room and into the antiseptic corridors, emitting a few coughs from chronic bronchitis. That’s the least of his health woes; he’s recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and can’t walk, because of inoperable herniated lumbar discs in his back.
December 23, 2014 (The New York Times)
When Officers Die and Protests Get the Blame
In the days after Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s killings of two New York Police Department officers and the shooting of a Baltimore woman, some in positions of authority have linked the crimes to protests against police violence. But others believe this linkage misunderstands both Mr. Brinsley and the protests — and that such misunderstanding could have serious consequences.
December 19, 2014
State Advocacy Update: Addressing Racially Disparate Criminal Justice Policies and More
Approaches to Address Racial Disparity
Local Policy Interventions
Advocating to Fund Effective Alternatives
December 17, 2014 (Los Angeles Times)
Obama commutes sentences of eight prisoners convicted on drug charges
President Obama commuted the sentences Wednesday of eight prisoners serving lengthy terms for drug charges, but it was only a fraction of the 6,561 who applied for his help.
In January, the Justice Department announced an ambitious program to recruit lawyers to help drug offenders seek presidential clemency after being jailed under harsh sentencing laws. The move was in line with Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.’s push to reduce the U.S. prison population, particularly among African Americans serving disproportionally longer sentences for crack cocaine possession.
December 11, 2014
Senators Grassley and Whitehouse Introduce Juvenile Justice Bill
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The Grassley-Whitehouse bill would modernize America’s justice system with evidence-based practices for handling troubled youth and provide the federal leadership to promote effective juvenile justice systems. The JJDPA was last reauthorized in 2007 but has not been substantively revised since 2002.
“Under this bill, states and local jurisdictions will make measurable, positive differences in the lives of youth who encounter the juvenile justice system, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Ashley Nellis, a senior research analyst at The Sentencing Project. “Recent events remind us that efforts toward racial justice are not nearly finished, but this bill moves us closer.”
In 2011, almost 1.5 million American youth were arrested, 95 percent of them for non-violent offenses.
December 9, 2014
The Sentencing Project Submits Recommendations to D.C.’s Mayor-Elect
Following her election as Washington, D.C.’s new mayor, Muriel Bowser has sought public input on important issues facing the District. The Sentencing Project submitted four recommendations for juvenile justice reform:
The full testimony can be read here.
December 9, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
Statement by The Sentencing Project for Senate Hearing on the State of Human and Civil Rights
The Sentencing Project submitted a statement today for inclusion in the record of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on “The State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States.”
We commend Chairman Dick Durbin for continuing his examination of the policies and practices that contribute to excessive imprisonment and racial disparities throughout the criminal justice system. In this written statement, we seek to bring attention to the causes of mass incarceration and racial injustice, the failures of mandatory minimum penalties, and the deeply problematic policy of felony disenfranchisement.