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.
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.
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.
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 01, 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.
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.
July 21, 2017
Texas should stop spending billions to incarcerate so many people for life
It costs $1 million to incarcerate someone for life. Texans must ask themselves whether they want to continue spending billions, despite diminishing public safety benefits associated with lengthy prison terms.
July 17, 2017
Race & Justice News: Disparities in New Jersey Traffic Tickets and Marijuana Arrests
Racial disparities in New Jersey’s marijuana arrests are at an all-time high, Los Angeles may have decriminalized illegal street food vending in response to Trump's immigration policies, and more in Race and Justice News.
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.
July 07, 2017
Next step for Louisiana prison reform is to review life sentences
Louisiana lawmakers still need to prioritize changes to its long-term and life sentences, which account for nearly 1 of every 3 state prisoners, writes Ashley Nellis in an op-ed for NOLA.com.
June 29, 2017
State Advocacy Update: Texas Set to Close 4 Prisons
Recently, state lawmakers have taken steps to address high rates of incarceration. These policy reforms ranged from deciding to close state prisons, changing sentencing laws, and improving college access for persons with criminal convictions.
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’.