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Sentencing Policy

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Race & Justice News: Misunderstanding African American English in Court
March 04, 2019

Race & Justice News: Misunderstanding African American English in Court

Philadelphia court reporters regularly made errors in transcribing sentences that were spoken in African American English (AAE), South Carolina's civil asset forfeitures unevenly impact black men, and more in Race & Justice News.
publications
March 04, 2019

The Sentencing Project Urges Congress to Support the Democracy Restoration Act

The Sentencing Project urges Congress to support the Democracy Restoration Act and oppose all amendments and/or a motion to recommit to remove this provision from H.R. 1.
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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’.
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State Advocacy News: Expanding Racial Impact Statements
March 01, 2019

State Advocacy News: Expanding Racial Impact Statements

Seven states – Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, and Vermont – have introduced legislation this year to require racial impact statements.
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Webinar: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences in the United States
February 28, 2019

Webinar: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences in the United States

In this webinar, researchers and advocates discuss The Sentencing Project's new book, The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences, by Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis.
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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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State Advocacy News: Strategies to end life imprisonment, expand the vote, and strengthen reentry policies
February 01, 2019

State Advocacy News: Strategies to end life imprisonment, expand the vote, and strengthen reentry policies

Since Florida's success with the passage of Amendment 4, lawmakers and advocates in California, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey and Kentucky have advanced proposals to restore voting rights.
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Pennsylvania is poised for much-needed criminal justice reform, but can we abolish life without parole?
January 28, 2019

Pennsylvania is poised for much-needed criminal justice reform, but can we abolish life without parole?

Ashley Nellis
Pennsylvania is leading a nationwide trend of ever-lengthening prison terms. One in six people in prison is serving a life sentence, the vast majority of whom have no chance at a parole review.
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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.
publications
January 16, 2019

Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2018

Nicole Porter
In 2018, formerly incarcerated activists, lawmakers, and advocates worked to challenge mass incarceration. This briefing paper highlights key changes in criminal justice policy achieved.
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The Brian Lehrer Show: Calling for the End of Life Sentences
January 16, 2019

The Brian Lehrer Show: Calling for the End of Life Sentences

Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis argue against any sentence longer than 20 years on WNYC's the Brian Lehrer Show.
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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.
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The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Marc Mauer Calls For Abolishing Life Sentences
January 09, 2019

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Marc Mauer Calls For Abolishing Life Sentences

Trevor Noah interviewed Marc Mauer about his new book with Ashley Nellis on life sentences.
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Race & Justice News: Florida Judges Not Blameless for Biased Pleas
January 03, 2019

Race & Justice News: Florida Judges Not Blameless for Biased Pleas

Judges in Florida are not blameless for biased plea deals, Denver's curfew law enforcement targets Latino youth, and more in Race & Justice News.
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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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