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SENTENCING POLICY



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
January 29, 2015 (C-SPAN)
Proposed Changes to Criminal Justice System

"We have two systems of justice: one for the rich, and one for the poor," Marc Mauer told host Greta Wodele Brawner this morning.

The Sentencing Project's Executive Director was on C-SPAN discussing proposed changes to the nation’s criminal justice system, including sentencing reform and changes to death penalty laws, as well as how the next attorney general could affect these policies.


January 27, 2015
Race and Justice News

International: Racial Disparities in Incarceration in UK and Australia Exceed Those in United States 

Collateral Consequences: Jobseekers with Minor Arrest Records Face Employment Barriers 

Criminal Records Produce Widespread Economic Barriers 

Books: Bryan Stevenson: "Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done" 

Reforms: Justice Department Expands Rules Against Racial Profiling for Federal Law Enforcement, with Major Exceptions 


January 21, 2015 (Associated Press)
First Racial-Impact Law Seen as Having Modest Effect in Iowa

After a 2007 report showed that Iowa had the nation's highest disparity for sending blacks to prison, state lawmakers took a novel step: They passed a law requiring analysts to draft "racial-impact statements" on any proposals to create new crimes or tougher penalties.

The governor at the time said the statements would be "an essential tool" to understand how minority communities might be affected before any votes are cast.

A review by The Associated Press shows that the first-in-the-nation law appears to be having a modest effect, helping to defeat some legislation that could have exacerbated disparities and providing a smoother path to passage for measures deemed neutral or beneficial to minorities.


January 15, 2015
Disenfranchisement News

Virginia: Governor restores voting rights of more than 5,100 formerly incarcerated individuals

Iowa: Task force fails to fix problems with database of ineligible voters

Minnesota: Minnesota Conversations: Felony Voting

Florida: State legislators and advocates propose automatic rights restoration

Kentucky: Bi-partisan support for voting rights bill in General Assembly

International: Nigerian court upholds the right of citizens in prison to vote in all elections


January 6, 2015 (Al Jazeera America)
Old age in the big house

George Hall, 79, sits in his room on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, at the Lakeland Men's Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan

It’s time for George Hall to come to the conference room, so he puts down his headphones and pivots his wheelchair away from the Brothers word processor he’s been using all morning to work on a friend’s legal brief. He navigates out of his room and into the antiseptic corridors, emitting a few coughs from chronic bronchitis. That’s the least of his health woes; he’s recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and can’t walk, because of inoperable herniated lumbar discs in his back.