Racial Disparity News
June 11, 2014 (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
The link between felon disenfranchisement, politics, and health
About 7.7% of voting age African Americans are currently prohibited from voting compared to 2.5% of the U.S. population. Pennsylvania is among the more progressive states in this regard; only current prisoners are prevented from casting ballots, with 2.5% of the state’s African Americans (0.6% of all races) disenfranchised, according to the Sentencing Project. When the analysis is limited to males, who are far more likely to be imprisoned, it finds that 13% of African American men are disenfranchised nationwide. An African American male born today has a 1-in-3 chance of being disenfranchised at some point in his life.
If a group of people can’t vote, the politicians who care about their health needs might be less likely to win elections.
June 3, 2014 (Huffington Post)
I Am My Brother's Keeper
An op-ed by Reverend Al Sharpton:
I could have easily been a statistic. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, it was easy -- a little too easy -- to get into trouble. Surrounded by poor schools, lack of resources, high unemployment rates, poverty, gangs and more, I watched as many of my peers fell victim to a vicious cycle of diminished opportunities and imprisonment. If it weren't for the mentorship and guidance from people like my mother, James Brown and others, I wouldn't have been able to make something of my life.
June 2, 2014
California's Fair Sentencing Act to Equalize Penalties Advances
The Sentencing Project submitted a letter to California's Assembly Public Safety Committee in support of Senate Bill 1010. The proposed legislation has been approved by the state's Senate and would equalize penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses. Sentences for intent-to-sell crack convictions range from three to five years in current state law, compared to two to four years for powder. Crack convictions in low-income communities and communities of color are more common because crack is cheaper than powder. SB 1010 would eliminate the difference in sentencing, probation and asset forfeiture rules for low level powder and crack cocaine offenses.
May 28, 2014 (MSNBC)
Is the ‘tough on crime’ movement on its way out?
"It was a dinner invitation from Newt Gingrich a few years ago that first led me to think change might be coming on criminal justice policy. The former Republican House Speaker had arranged the event with a small group of people concerned with America’s world record prison population. Along with Gingrich, Grover Norquist and other leading lights of the Republican right, we had an intriguing conversation about the runaway 'war on drugs,' excessive federal prosecutions, and the failures of our prison system.
As someone who has labored on these issues for several decades I had gotten used to fighting losing battles: trying to convince policymakers that the 'one size fits all' approach of mandatory sentencing produces vast injustices; that the drug war focus on law enforcement too often ignores the need to help people access treatment; and that the dramatically high rates of incarceration for African Americans are a tragedy for our society.
But over the past decade the landscape has shifted. Four years ago, Congress passed legislation reducing the racially disparate sentencing differential between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a significant expansion of the clemency process in order to reduce excessive prison terms for low-level drug offenders. And in two far-reaching decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has found aspects of life without parole sentences for juveniles to be unconstitutional."
Author: Marc Mauer
May 19, 2014
The Sentencing Project Releases its 2013 Annual Report
The Sentencing Project is pleased to announce the release of its 2013 Annual report which provides a comprehensive overview of activities over the past year.