January 27, 2021
Race & Justice News: White Supremacists in Law Enforcement, Germany’s Approach
German responses to far-right extremism in law enforcement are more robust than the U.S., over half of people stopped by Portland Police Gun Violence Team were Black, racial bias impacts risk assessments for Canada's Indigenous Women, and more in Race and Justice News.
January 25, 2021
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.
January 22, 2021
Can We Wait 60 Years to Cut the Prison Population in Half?
Following a nearly 700% increase between 1972 and 2009, the U.S. prison population declined 11% in the subsequent 10 years. At this rate of decline it will take 57 years — until 2078 — to cut the prison population in half
January 15, 2021
Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2020
In recent years most states have enacted reforms designed to reduce the scale of incarceration and the impact of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. This briefing paper describes key reforms that were prioritized in 2020.
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.
December 02, 2020
Letter on Oversight Hearing for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service
The Sentencing Project wrote to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee about its oversight hearing for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service, in regards to the government's response to the pandemic in federal prisons.
November 24, 2020
Incarcerated Women and Girls
Over the past quarter century, there has been a profound change in the involvement of women within the criminal justice system. This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women.
November 18, 2020
Race & Justice News: Whose Lives Matter?
Oregon ballot measure tackles racial disparities in drug possession enforcement, San Francisco will respond to behavioral crisis calls without police, Black Kansas City residents cite distrust of police as contributor to gun violence, and more in Race & Justice News.
October 30, 2020
State Advocacy News: Community Challenges to Life Imprisonment
The Sentencing Project convened a national day of action in commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the Attica uprising and to demand life sentenced prisoners be included in COVID-19-related decarceration efforts. Groups around the country organized grassroots actions in support of prison releases.
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.
September 28, 2020
Race & Justice News: Disarming Traffic Enforcement
Sentencing disparities examined in Massachusetts and Washtenaw County, Michigan, federal prosecutors targeted black communities while handling DC gun charges, Berkley to disarms traffic enforcement, and more in Race & Justice News.
August 26, 2020
State Advocacy Update: From Defund the Police to Defund Prisons
The Sentencing Project hosted an online discussion highlighting efforts in California and Colorado to decarcerate and prioritize funding towards crime prevention and community.
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’.