April 17, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
New Publication: Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment
Justice Reinvestment was conceived as part of the solution to mass incarceration. The intent was to reduce corrections populations and budgets, thereby generating savings for reinvestment in high incarceration communities to make them safer, stronger, more prosperous, and equitable.
April 15, 2013 (South Florida Times)
Florida leads in denying voting rights
Reporter Bill Kaczon writes that changes under Republican Gov. Rick Scott have made it more difficult for Floridians with past felony convictions to get their voting rights restored—a situation critics say has suppressed the minority vote and hurt Democratic candidates.
Civil liberties activists say Florida's rights restoration rules are the most restrictive in the nation and have the effect, if not the intent, of suppressing the minority vote.
Only 16.5 percent of Floridians are black, yet blacks make up 31.5 percent of the state's prison population, meaning a higher percentage of African-Americans, who tend to support Democrats, don't have the right to vote after completing their sentences.
April 12, 2013 (The New York Times)
With Police in Schools, More Children in Court
As school districts across the country consider placing more police officers in schools, youth advocates and judges are raising alarm about what they have seen in the schools where officers are already stationed: a surge in criminal charges against children for misbehavior that many believe is better handled in the principal’s office.
“There is no evidence that placing officers in the schools improves safety,” said Denise C. Gottfredson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland who is an expert in school violence. “And it increases the number of minor behavior problems that are referred to the police, pushing kids into the criminal system.”
April 5, 2013 (The Gazette)
Today’s Iowa governors stingy with commutations
People serving life prison terms in Iowa during the last 30 years are more than ten times less likely to see their sentences commuted than in the previous 38 years.
From 1945 to 1983, Iowa governors commuted the sentences of an average 5.5 people a year, according to data provided by the Iowa Department of Corrections. Since 1983, lifers have seen only .4 commutations a year – or an average of one commutation every two to three years.
“There’s been a large drop in granting clemency at the national level over the past 20 years,” said Ashley Nellis, senior policy analyst with The Sentencing Project. “The political decision-makers are so politically entrenched and don’t have the ability to do what they want.”
April 2, 2013 (North Country Public Radio)
Alternatives to Incarceration
Cash-strapped states like New York are struggling to reduce inmate populations so that they can close expensive prisons. Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to mothball two more correctional facilities downstate this year.
Reducing the number of people behind bars means experimenting with diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders: States are offering counseling programs, rehabilitation and therapy, and opening alternative, "drug courts." The goal is to battle drug addiction without incarceration.
Marc Mauer, the executive director of The Sentencing Project, says drug courts are one tool that states are trying to reduce the pressure and cost mass incarceration. He says trying treatment before incarceration just makes sense.
In a three-part series of Prison Time Media Project, Natasha Haverty traces one man through a system that is moving away from mass incarceration. Listen here.