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Sentencing Policy

publications
March 24, 2020

Bipartisan Coalition Calls on President Trump to Commute Federal Prison Sentences for Populations Most Vulnerable to COVID-19

Justice reform leaders sent a letter to President Trump urging him to utilize his clemency power to extend compassionate release in federal prisons to elderly people and those with serious health conditions who are exceptionally vulnerable to coronavirus.
publications
March 18, 2020

The Sentencing Project Releases its 2019 Annual Report

Learn more about how our research and analysis in 2019 played a major role in shaping campaign priorities around criminal justice reform and highlighting the impact of excessive sentencing.
Featured Story
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.
news
State Advocacy Newsletter: Unlocking the Vote 2020
March 06, 2020

State Advocacy Newsletter: Unlocking the Vote 2020

The 2020 election season offers an opportunity to increase public awareness about felony disenfranchisement laws to expand voter eligibility. During the era of mass incarceration the overall disenfranchisement rate increased substantially. In recent years, substantial reforms have expanded the vote to millions of individuals.
publications
March 03, 2020

Letter in Support of Maryland Bill to Remove Governor from Parole Process

In a letter of support submitted to Maryland legislators, The Sentencing Project's Director of Advocacy Nicole Porter highlighted the importance of House Bill 1219/Senate Bill 817 which eliminates the governor’s approval requirement for parole recommendations of life-sentenced prisoners by the Maryland Parole Commission who have served 20 years in prison.
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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.
publications
February 25, 2020

Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Overview

Josh Rovner
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.
publications
February 20, 2020

People Serving Life Exceeds Entire Prison Population of 1970

In this report, we present a closer look at the rise in life sentences amidst the overall incarceration expansion.
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Featured Story

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.
news
State Advocacy News: Rallying for Criminal Justice Reform
February 05, 2020

State Advocacy News: Rallying for Criminal Justice Reform

This year, advocates in several states have held rallies or protests designed to influence decision makers in support of justice reform goals.
news
Race & Justice News: St. Louis Prosecutor Fights “Racially Motivated Conspiracy”
February 03, 2020

Race & Justice News: St. Louis Prosecutor Fights “Racially Motivated Conspiracy”

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner alleges some city leaders have tried to undermine her efforts to fight police misconduct and reform the local criminal justice system. Gardner, St. Louis’s first African American top prosecutor, is suing the city under an 1871 federal civil rights law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.
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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.
news
The Appeal: The Death Penalty Is Part Of A Larger System of Punishment
January 31, 2020

The Appeal: The Death Penalty Is Part Of A Larger System of Punishment

As the number of people on death row decreases, the number of people serving life sentences has risen. Abolishing the death penalty should not serve as a way to replace one extreme sentence with another—but as a first step to reform extreme sentences altogether, says The Sentencing Project's Ashley Nellis.
news
Disenfranchisement News: FL Supreme Court rules all costs must be paid to regain voting rights
January 28, 2020

Disenfranchisement News: FL Supreme Court rules all costs must be paid to regain voting rights

Florida rules all costs must be paid to restore voting rights, Georgia Senate study committee votes to not expand voting rights, and more in our latest Disenfranchisement News.
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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.
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