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publications
June 21, 2016

Open Letter to President Barack Obama on Clemency

Unless President Obama personally intervenes to break a bureaucratic logjam, his clemency initiative will fall far short of granting the number of commutations for which people in prison are eligible. An open letter to the President from a broad coalition of criminal justice reform advocates, former judges and prosecutors, and legal scholars urges him to act.
publications
June 09, 2016

Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Overview

The United States stands alone as the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for crimes committed before turning 18. This briefing paper reviews the Supreme Court precedents that limited the use of JLWOP and the challenges that remain.
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Kemba Smith

At 24 years old, Kemba Smith was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison for conspiracy to participate in her boyfriend's drug activities, a non-violent, first-time offense. For years, her parents galvanized a tireless movement seeking clemency for their daughter.
news
State Advocacy Update: Strategies for Grassroots Advocacy and Coalition Building
June 07, 2016

State Advocacy Update: Strategies for Grassroots Advocacy and Coalition Building

Many advocates will take the summer to revisit their strategies and identify tactics to ramp up efforts for next session.
news
Why Prince’s Death Shouldn’t Lead to Bad Drug Policy
June 06, 2016

Why Prince’s Death Shouldn’t Lead to Bad Drug Policy

Jeremy Haile
In the wake of Prince's death as the result of a fentanyl overdose, a measure has been proposed in Congress that would impose harsh new mandatory prison terms for offenses involving tiny quantities of the drug.
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Lawrence and Lamont Garrison

Sentences for federal drug crimes are based on the quantity of the drugs involved, not the individual’s role in the crime. The emphasis on quantity rather than the role of the offender, along with the conspiracy laws, too often result in disproportionate sentencing, even for first-time offenses such as the Garrisons’.
news
Time for a Broad Approach to Clemency
June 03, 2016

Time for a Broad Approach to Clemency

The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer wrote an op-ed in The Hill with co-authors Nancy Gertner and Jonathan Simon on the problems plaguing the clemency program of the Department of Justice.
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Iowa Court Rejects Life Without Parole for Juveniles
May 27, 2016

Iowa Court Rejects Life Without Parole for Juveniles

The Iowa Supreme Court has banned sentencing youth under age 18 to life without parole, saying the sentence is unconstitutional because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
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Christopher Poulos

When Chris Poulos was arrested, he experienced firsthand the difference that money can make in the criminal justice system. He recounts the experience in his own words.
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Voting Rights for Individuals with Felony Convictions
May 18, 2016

Voting Rights for Individuals with Felony Convictions

Marc Mauer
Voting is a fundamental right of democracy that should include all individuals, including those with felony convictions.
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Why We Can’t Afford to Wait for Federal Sentencing Reform
May 16, 2016

Why We Can’t Afford to Wait for Federal Sentencing Reform

Jeremy Haile
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would not solve all the problems in the criminal justice system, but it would reduce punishment for thousands of individuals and, on balance, create a fairer and more effective system.
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Dorothy Gaines

Dorothy Gaines's life changed when Alabama state police raided her home for drugs. Police found no evidence of Gaines having possessed or sold drugs, yet federal prosecutors charged Gaines with drug conspiracy.
publications
May 13, 2016

Expanding Public Safety in the Era of Black Lives Matter

The narrative of “Black Lives Matter” offers a new framework for policymakers, activists, practitioners, and other stakeholders to think about a public safety strategy that is not solely defined by arrests and admissions to prison. This essay in the University of Miami Law Review provides an overview of evidence-based approaches for public safety interventions that exist outside of law enforcement interactions.
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Debate Over Restoring Voting Rights to People with Felony Convictions
May 12, 2016

Debate Over Restoring Voting Rights to People with Felony Convictions

The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer discusses the Virginia governor's recent move to restore rights to 200,000 residents and the national context of disenfranchisement reform on the Diane Rehm Show.
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Theresa McIntyre Smith

In 1999, Theresa Smith was arrested at an airport after she met a drug courier in Roy Mercer’s network and according to the government, identified a suitcase containing eleven kilograms of cocaine for the courier. Smith said she had been told by Mercer that the suitcase contained his nieces’ clothes. For this first-time non-violent offense, Smith was sentenced to a ten-year mandatory prison term.
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