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Changes in sentencing law and policy, not increases in crime rates, explain most of the six-fold increase in the national prison population. These changes have significantly impacted racial disparities in sentencing, as well as increased the use of “one size fits all" mandatory minimum sentences that allow little consideration for individual characteristics.


Sentencing Policy News
October 3, 2015 (NPR)
Here's One Thing Washington Agreed On This Week: Sentencing Reform

"It's wonder enough in sharply-divided Washington that nine Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate came together this week to do anything, let alone touch the once politically charged arena of crime and punishment. But groups as different as the ACLU and Koch Industries had joined this year in a coalition to press for change, and so too did senators as different as Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin," reports NPR.

October 1, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
Momentous Legislation Indicates "Tough on Crime" Days are Over

Today, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are coming together to end a disastrous era of "tough on crime" politics. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, introduced today by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), takes a number of steps forward to reverse harsh penalties that have come at a ruinous cost to families and taxpayers while producing diminishing returns for public safety.

September 18, 2015 (Governing)
Treating the Infectious Disease of Violent Crime

"Residents of the communities that experience violent crime want it to stop, and there are better ways to make that happen than simply re-filling our prisons," writes Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project in a commentary in Governing. "In the long term, approaches to do so include early childhood education, targeted employment initiatives and therapeutic health interventions. But to respond to immediate concerns, we need to address the interpersonal conflicts that often trigger these events."

September 14, 2015
Race & Justice News: Supreme Court to review Georgia death penalty case for racial bias

Reforms: Policing and Municipal Courts in Ferguson and Missouri

Stop and Frisk in Chicago 

ABA-LDF Joint Statement on Eliminating Bias in the Criminal Justice System 

Persistent Racial Disparities Following Marijuana Reforms in Miami-Dade and Seattle 

School Discipline: Students of Color More Likely to Receive Harsh Response to Misbehavior 

Racial Disparities in School Discipline in Southern States 

Advocacy and Reforms in Miami-Dade, Texas, and Compton 

Youth Justice: Justice Department Finds Racial Bias in St. Louis County Youth Courts 

Death Penalty: Constitutional Concerns with Executions in Lousiana, Colorado, and Georgia 

September 11, 2015 (WBUR)
Race, Class And The Response To Today’s Heroin Epidemic

The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer appeared on WBUR's Here and Now to discuss race, class, and the response to today’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemic with host Robin Young and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke. In the late 1980s and ’90s, Mayor Schmoke was way out ahead on this issue, shocking people by advocating for decriminalizing the use of drugs, and for treating addiction as a public health crisis.