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Sentencing Policy

publications
January 16, 2019

Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2018

Nicole Porter
In 2018, formerly incarcerated activists, lawmakers, and advocates worked to challenge mass incarceration. This briefing paper highlights key changes in criminal justice policy achieved.
news
The Brian Lehrer Show: Calling for the End of Life Sentences
January 16, 2019

The Brian Lehrer Show: Calling for the End of Life Sentences

Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis argue against any sentence longer than 20 years on WNYC's the Brian Lehrer Show.
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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
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Marc Mauer Calls For Abolishing Life Sentences
January 09, 2019

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Marc Mauer Calls For Abolishing Life Sentences

Trevor Noah interviewed Marc Mauer about his new book with Ashley Nellis on life sentences.
news
Race & Justice News: Florida Judges Not Blameless for Biased Pleas
January 03, 2019

Race & Justice News: Florida Judges Not Blameless for Biased Pleas

Judges in Florida are not blameless for biased plea deals, Denver's curfew law enforcement targets Latino youth, and more in Race & Justice News.
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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
Commentary: Progress on justice reform closer
December 19, 2018

Commentary: Progress on justice reform closer

Kara Gotsch
The First Step Act is an important milestone in the long road to ending mass incarceration and curbing the excesses and harm in the federal justice system.
news
Criminal justice reform doesn't end system's racial bias
December 18, 2018

Criminal justice reform doesn't end system's racial bias

Nicole D. Porter and Leah Sakala of Urban Institute

Efforts still leave black men more likely to be arrested, sentenced and imprisoned for the same behavior

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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.
publications
December 14, 2018

The Sentencing Project Urges Senate to Oppose Cotton - Kennedy Amendment to the First Step Act

The Sentencing Project urges the Senate to pass the First Step Act without amendment #4109, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and John Kennedy—which is designed to derail the legislation and weaken its rehabilitation incentive program.
news
State Advocacy News: Inside/Outside End Mass Incarceration Strategies
December 13, 2018

State Advocacy News: Inside/Outside End Mass Incarceration Strategies

Establishing unifying policy platforms offer opportunities to raise public awareness about long-term prison sentences and the conditions that persons sentenced to life terms and others experience.
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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
December 04, 2018

The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences

Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis
The dramatic growth of life imprisonment requires advocates and lawmakers to address the problem of excessive sentencing to end mass incarceration.
publications
November 28, 2018

The Sentencing Project Calls on Congress to Pass First Step Act

In a letter sent to Senate and House leadership, The Sentencing Project urged Congress to move quickly to pass the sentencing reform measures in the First Step Act (S.3649) "to help create a safer, more equitable and fairer justice system."
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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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