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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
November 17, 2015 (Courier-Journal)
Congress should pass criminal justice reform

"A few weeks ago, a remarkable thing happened in Congress. A bipartisan group of senators introduced a substantive criminal justice reform bill that stands a good chance of passage in the coming months," writes Jeremy Haile in the Courier-Journal.

Author: Jeremy Haile
November 16, 2015 (Minnesota Public Radio)
Does race change the way people discuss drug crimes?

"Does race change the way people discuss drug crimes?" asks Minnesota Public Radio. The Sentencing Project's research analysts Nazgol Ghandnoosh and Ashley Nellis respond.

November 4, 2015
Disenfranchisement News: Investigation reveals arbitrary process of voting rights restoration

Florida: Jeb Bush approved only one-fifth of the 385K applications for civil rights submitted while governor

Iowa: Judge upholds state ban on voting with a felony conviction

National: Rep. Jeffries proposes bill to restore voting rights in federal elections

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on felony disenfranchisement: "Let them vote."

International: New Zealand High Court rules against blanket ban on prison voting 

October 29, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Budget Remedies to Address Mass Incarceration

Budget Remedies to Address Mass Incarceration

Early Start: Legislative Pre-filing

Social Networking for Reform

Other News: Oklahoma, Michigan and New York

This time of year offers advocacy organizations an opportunity to determine policy goals and strengthen the infrastructure necessary to advance reform remedies. Many organizations are in research mode, determining what officials approved in other states and assessing the viability of working towards similar goals in their own jurisdictions. Prior to the start of session many state organizers are convening coalition meetings, discussing points of consensus, and identifying champions for policy goals.

October 25, 2015 (Associated Press)
Early Release: Who the Drug Felons Are and Where They'll Go

At the end of the month, the federal prison system is set to release 6,000 individuals convicted for drug offenses — the largest one-time release of federal prisoners — as part of a national effort to reduce the impact of overly harsh sentencing laws. The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer explains to the Associated Press that the early release of individuals convicted for drug offenses is expected to have a very minimal effect on public safety.