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Sentencing policies brought about by the "war on drugs" resulted in a dramatic growth in incarceration for drug offenses. At the Federal level, prisoners incarcerated on a drug charge comprise half of the prison population, while the number of drug offenders in state prisons has increased thirteen-fold since 1980. Most of these people are not high-level actors in the drug trade, and most have no prior criminal record for a violent offense.

The Sentencing Project works actively to reform the federal mandatory penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses to make them more equitable and fair. To become involved visit our crack reform page.

Number of People in Prisons and Jails for Drug Offenses, 1980 and 2011

Drug Policy News
May 25, 2015
America’s Disappeared Black Men

"Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. These are the names of black men from around the United States who have disappeared from this world in the past year due to tragic encounters with police. But they are only the most visible examples of men who have gone missing as a result of deeply flawed criminal justice system in the United States," writes Jeremy Haile, Federal Advocacy Counsel at The Sentencing Project, in teleSUR.


May 24, 2015 (The New York Times)
How to Lock Up Fewer People

"When Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ted Cruz, Eric H. Holder Jr., Jeb Bush, George Soros, Marco Rubio and Charles G. Koch all agree that we must end mass incarceration, it is clear that times have changed," write The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer and Georgetown Law professor David Cole. "Not long ago, most politicians believed the only tenable stance on crime was to be tougher than the next guy."


May 9, 2015 (Des Moines Register)
Mandatory sentences don’t benefit public safety

"Sen. Chuck Grassley writes that mandatory drug sentences are necessary to protect communities in Iowa ['Response to bishops,' May 2]. But this claim is not supported by evidence," explains Jeremy Haile, Federal Advocacy Counsel at The Sentencing Project in a letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register.


April 20, 2015 (The Mark News)
Minimizing The Maximum: Why Prison Sentences Should Be Capped At 20 Years

A commentary in The Mark News by Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, makes the case for capping federal prison sentences at 20-years, barring exception circumstances.


April 17, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Connecticut Governor calls for "Second Chance Society"

Connecticut: Governor Leads Effort for "Second Chance Society"

Kentucky: Addressing Sentence Lengths for Persons with Prior Felony Convictions

Massachusetts: Advocates Support Felony Reclassification and Reinvesting Savings

Other News: Alabama, Maryland, Missouri, and more...