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Sentencing Policy

publications
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.
publications
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.
Featured Story
Featured Story

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.
news
State Advocacy News: Community Challenges to Life Imprisonment
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.
news
Race & Justice News: Disarming Traffic Enforcement
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.
Featured Story
Featured Story

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.
news
State Advocacy Update: From Defund the Police to Defund Prisons
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.
publications
August 25, 2020

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.
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Featured Story

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.
publications
July 31, 2020

Testimony: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in Virginia

Ashley Nellis, Ph.D
Testimony Delivered by Ashley Nellis, Ph.D., Senior Research Analyst, The Sentencing Project For the Virginia House of Delegates Joint Meeting of Courts of Justice and Public Safety Committees
news
State Advocacy News: Emergency Sessions Offer Pathway to Justice Reform
July 20, 2020

State Advocacy News: Emergency Sessions Offer Pathway to Justice Reform

Nearly one third of states have convened emergency sessions in response to COVID-19 or policing issues. Special or emergency sessions may offer criminal justice reform coalitions an opportunity to advance decarceration priorities, address racial disparities, and challenge collateral consequences.
Featured Story
Featured Story
December 01, 2017

James Inge

James D. Inge is one of 300 individuals age 60 or older arrested between 1965 and 1980 that was sentenced to life imprisonment in Pennsylvania. Learn more about his campaign to give rehabilitated seniors serving life a second chance.
news
Race & Justice News: School Districts Defund the Police
July 09, 2020

Race & Justice News: School Districts Defund the Police

School districts across the nation defund the police, California disproportionately excludes Black and Latinx jurors, US protests for George Floyd spark global activism, and more in Race & Justice News.
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State Advocacy News: From Protest to Policy
June 12, 2020

State Advocacy News: From Protest to Policy

Following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others the nation is demanding justice through direct actions and mass mobilizations. Strategic solutions include a range of recommendations that address racial disparities, reduced law enforcement interactions, and sentencing reforms.
Featured Story
Featured Story

Dorothy Gaines

Dorothy Gaines's life changed when Alabama state police raided her home for drugs. Police found no evidence of Gaines having possessed or sold drugs, yet federal prosecutors charged Gaines with drug conspiracy.
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