December 08, 2021
Successes in Criminal Legal Reforms, 2021
Formerly incarcerated activists, lawmakers, and advocates achieved important changes in criminal justice policy in 2021 to reduce mass incarceration, expand voting rights and advance racial justice. This briefing paper highlights key reforms undertaken in 2021 prioritized by The Sentencing Project.
December 06, 2021
Amicus Brief in Support of Ending Extreme Sentences for Youth in Maryland
The Sentencing Project joined with partners at the MacArthur Justice Center, the Juvenile Law Center, and others who oppose extreme sentences for youth on an amicus brief to end those sentences in Maryland and to require a finding of permanent incorrigibility under the Maryland Declaration of Rights during sentencing.
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.
November 03, 2021
Testimony in support of Washington, DC's Revised Criminal Code Act of 2021
Passage of the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2021 would go far in aligning D.C.’s criminal penalties with criminological evidence on how to advance public safety.
November 03, 2021
Conversation About Crime Survivors and Restorative Justice Issues
The Sentencing Project and national victim/survivor advocate Anne Seymour sponsored a virtual conversation to address the critical issue of restorative justice practices both pre- and post-conviction. The goal of the conversation was to identify strategies that can more wholly address the needs of survivors, those who harm them, and the communities in which they reside.
October 29, 2021
Amicus Brief in Support of Ending Felony Murder LWOP Sentences in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, some 1,100 people are serving life-without-parole (LWOP) sentences despite never having intended to take a life. Pennsylvania is one of just six states that mandate LWOP for all individuals convicted of felony murder.
October 13, 2021
The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons
Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at nearly five times the rate of whites, and Latinx people are 1.3 times as likely to be incarcerated than non-Latinx whites. This report documents the rates of incarceration for white, Black and Latinx Americans in each state, identifies three contributors to racial and ethnic disparities in imprisonment, and provides recommendations for reform.
October 07, 2021
Testimony Before DC Council's Committee on the Judiciary in Support of the Redefinition of Child Amendment Act of 2021
The Sentencing Project's Senior Advocacy Associate Josh Rovner submitted testimony endorsing Bill 24-338, the Redefinition of Child Amendment Act of 2021, before the Council of the District of Columbia, Committee on the Judiciary. The hearing considers whether all of DC’s children should be seen as such. The bill would apply to 16-and 17-year-olds who have been charged with any one of a set of serious offenses.
October 07, 2021
Sign-on Letter: Pass the Redefinition of Child Amendment Act of 2021
Justice organizations urge the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia to pass Bill 4-0338, the Redefinition of Child Amendment Act of 2021 as a necessary, common sense approach to juvenile justice reform that will create better outcomes for youth and communities, will treat children as children, and will make significant steps forward in advancing racial equity.
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’.
September 22, 2021
In the Extreme: Women Serving Life Without Parole and Death Sentences in the United States
One of every 15 women in prison — amounting to more than 6,600 women — is serving a life sentence and nearly 2,000 of these have no chance for parole. Another 52 women in the U.S. are awaiting execution. Many women serving extreme sentences were victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse long before they committed a crime.
September 13, 2021
Letter Supporting Immediate Consideration and Passage of Sentencing Reform Legislation
At least three bipartisan sentencing reform proposals, the First Step Implementation Act (S.1014), the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act (S.312), and the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act (S.601) await a floor vote after the Judiciary Committee approved them this past spring.
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.