Fact Sheets
Featured Video
  • National Press Club Forum: A 25-Year Vision for Criminal Justice Reform
  • Unlocking Justice: Alternatives to Prison
State Contacts

DRUG POLICY



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
August 24, 2015 (Daily Journal)
Evidence Doesn't Support Federal Prosecutors' Drug Sentencing Reform "Myths"

In July, the National Association of Assistant U.S Attorneys (NAAUSA) released a report that challenges a number of claims attributed to proponents of federal drug sentencing reform. In a recent commentary for the Daily Journal, The Sentencing Project's Jeremy Haile shows that the evidence does not support the prosecutors' "myths." The truth is that federal mandatory minimum drug penalties have exacted enormous costs -- both fiscal and human -- without benefiting public safety.


August 9, 2015 (Business Insider)
There's blatant inequality at nearly every phase of the criminal justice system

Social science research shows striking racial disparities at nearly every level of the criminal justice system—from arrest rates, to bail amounts, to sentence lengths, to probation hearing outcomes. In eight charts, Business Insider explores what it’s like to be black in the U.S. justice system.


July 31, 2015
Disenfranchisement News: Growing momentum for restoring the right to vote

Florida: Presidential candidates' felony disenfranchisement records

National: Growing momentum for restoring the right to vote

The "war on drugs" and black disenfranchisement

Racial attitudes and ideology affect support for restoration of voting rights


July 16, 2015 (Al Jazeera America)
President Obama's prison visit caps big week for justice reform

"President Barack Obama’s tour of El Reno federal prison in Oklahoma on Thursday, the first such visit made to a prison by a sitting president, caps a momentous week for the criminal justice reform movement," reports Al Jazeera America.


July 16, 2015 (MSNBC)
Pres. Obama pushes criminal justice reform

The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer appeared on MSNBC to talk criminal justice reform with USC Law Professor Jody Armour on News Nation. In this segment, they discuss how excessively long sentences do not take into account human capacity for change, the stark racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and rising bi-partisan support for reform measures across the country.