July 21, 2017
Texas should stop spending billions to incarcerate so many people for life
It costs $1 million to incarcerate someone for life. Texans must ask themselves whether they want to continue spending billions, despite diminishing public safety benefits associated with lengthy prison terms.
July 20, 2017
Disenfranchisement News: Illinois jail allows in-person voting
Cook County Jail allowed in-person voting for the first time in almost a decade, lawsuit seeks to have Alabama educate people about new voting rights law, and more in Disenfranchisement News.
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.
July 17, 2017
Race & Justice News: Disparities in New Jersey Traffic Tickets and Marijuana Arrests
Racial disparities in New Jersey’s marijuana arrests are at an all-time high, Los Angeles may have decriminalized illegal street food vending in response to Trump's immigration policies, and more in Race and Justice News.
July 07, 2017
Next step for Louisiana prison reform is to review life sentences
Louisiana lawmakers still need to prioritize changes to its long-term and life sentences, which account for nearly 1 of every 3 state prisoners, writes Ashley Nellis in an op-ed for NOLA.com.
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’.
June 29, 2017
State Advocacy Update: Texas Set to Close 4 Prisons
Recently, state lawmakers have taken steps to address high rates of incarceration. These policy reforms ranged from deciding to close state prisons, changing sentencing laws, and improving college access for persons with criminal convictions.
June 28, 2017
Incarceration Rates in an International Perspective
A nation’s rate of incarceration is the number of people incarcerated as a proportion of its total population. Internationally, there is broad variation in the degree to which nations incarcerate their citizens, with a nearly 40-fold difference between the highest and lowest rates. The incarceration rate is often interpreted as a measurement of the degree of punitiveness in a society, although it is an imperfect measurement.
Willie Mays Aikens
In 2008, Willie Mays Aikens made headlines when a federal judge reduced his lengthy prison term to 14 years as a result of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s adjustment to the crack cocaine sentencing guidelines. Aikens was released in June 2008.
June 26, 2017
Race & Justice News: Police Officers Speak More Respectfully to White Drivers
Police body camera footage shows Oakland police officers speak more respectfully to white drivers than black drivers, Native Americans are three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and more in Race and Justice News.
June 26, 2017
Trends in U.S. Corrections
The Sentencing Project's key fact sheet provides a compilation of major developments in the criminal justice system over the past several decades.
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.
June 23, 2017
Jeff Sessions wants a new war on drugs. It won’t work.
In The Washington Post, David Cole of the ACLU and Marc Mauer explain why Sessions' revival of the drug war will devastate families without reducing crime or solving the drug crisis.
June 19, 2017
Sessions is taking us back to the future
Sessions' new "tough on crime" directive will inevitably contribute to a rise in the federal prison population and will be counterproductive to promoting public safety, write Marc Mauer and Kara Gotsch in an op-ed for the San Francisco Daily Journal.
As a previously incarcerated person who had his voting rights restored in 1996, Denver Schimming knew the power and importance of voting. His years in prison taught him that the criminal justice system could change only if impacted people spoke out. After his incarceration, voting was one of his highest priorities.