October 20, 2017
Still increase in racial disparities in juvenile justice
We should celebrate the declines in incarceration among youth of all races and ethnicities. But let’s not overlook the way these changes aren’t benefiting all our children in the same way.
October 13, 2017
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.
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.
October 11, 2017
Public Comment on USSC’s “First Offenders/ Alternatives to Incarceration” Proposed Amendment
The Sentencing Project, Human Rights Watch, Gamaliel and the ACLU applaud the Sentencing Commission’s consideration of an amendment to increase the availability of sentences of alternatives to incarceration within the federal sentencing guidelines.
October 10, 2017
Race & Justice News: One-Third of Black Men Have Felony Convictions
The number of black men with felony convictions has significantly increased over the past 30 years, American Indian and Alaska Native jail counts have doubled since the late 1990s, and more in Race and Justice News.
September 21, 2017
South Carolina Legislature must reform life-without-parole sentences
South Carolina has started down the road to criminal justice reform — a beginning, but it is a long road. A legislative package designed to accelerate the state’s progress ought to include consideration of reforms to long-term sentences.
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.
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.
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.
August 04, 2017
Life Sentences, Long Sentences Imposed on Youth Need 2nd Look
As young people age and mature they develop the capacity to make different choices, writes Ashley Nellis in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.
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.