November 08, 2017
The Sentencing Project's 2017 Annual Newsletter
Despite this changing political environment we have made strides in advancing justice and helping to shape a reform agenda for both policymakers and the advocacy community in 2017.
August 21, 2017
Race & Justice News: A Visual Double Standard in Media Coverage of Opioid and Crack Epidemics
Media coverage of the opioid epidemic—which largely affects suburban and rural whites—portrays it as an outside threat and focuses on treatment and recovery, while stories of heroin in the 1970s, crack-cocaine in the 1980s, and other drug problems that impact urban people of color today have focused on the drug user’s morality.
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’.
July 27, 2017
The Sentencing Project's Comments to U.S. Sentencing Commission on 2018 Policy Priorities
The Sentencing Project asks the Commission to take a fresh look at the guidelines structure to determine if sentence lengths are sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to achieve the goals of sentencing.
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.
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 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.
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.
May 16, 2017
WATCH: Attorney General calls for toughest charges for people in custody
Marc Mauer responds to AG Sessions' decision to end the DOJ's Smart on Crime initiative on CBS 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.