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Sentencing Policy

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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Race & Justice News: Los Angeles Discontinues a Predictive-Policing Program
May 11, 2020

Race & Justice News: Los Angeles Discontinues a Predictive-Policing Program

Los Angeles ends its predictive-policing program viewed as biased, African Americans face disproportionate arrest rates for marijuana possession, African and Caribbean immigrants disproportionately isolated in ICE custody, and more in Race & Justice News.
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State Advocacy News: Prisons, Protest and COVID-19
May 05, 2020

State Advocacy News: Prisons, Protest and COVID-19

Despite the pandemic, advocates are finding new ways to continue challenging mass incarceration through virtual events and social distance gatherings.
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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’.
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State Advocacy News: Reform Responses to COVID-19
April 06, 2020

State Advocacy News: Reform Responses to COVID-19

COVID-19 has led state advocates to demand prison and jail systems decarcerate to stem outbreaks in facilities often challenged by poor conditions and overcrowding. Decarceration practices or calls for reform have been documented in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia to reduce health risks for incarcerated persons vulnerable to COVID-19.
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.
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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.
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