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Sentencing Policy

publications
September 05, 2018

Decarceration Strategies: How 5 States Achieved Substantial Prison Population Reductions

Dennis Schrantz, Stephen DeBor, and Marc Mauer
Connecticut, Michigan, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and South Carolina have reduced their prison populations between 14-25% over the past decade. This report describes how these five states can serve as decarceration roadmaps for other states.
publications
Public Comment on Commission’s Proposed Priorities for 2018-2019 Amendment Cycle
August 27, 2018

Public Comment on Commission’s Proposed Priorities for 2018-2019 Amendment Cycle

A coalition of civil rights, criminal justice reform, and human rights groups provided comments to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on ways to improve the fairness and proportionality of the Guidelines; promote individualized review of specific offense conduct; and mitigate excessively punitive provisions.
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
Race & Justice News: Homicide Clearance Disparities Contribute to Capital Punishment Disparities
August 07, 2018

Race & Justice News: Homicide Clearance Disparities Contribute to Capital Punishment Disparities

Homicides involving white victims are significantly more likely to be "cleared" by the arrest of a suspect than homicides involving victims of color, causing racial disparities in capital sentencing to begin as early as police investigations. Learn more in Race & Justice News.
publications
August 02, 2018

Private Prisons in the United States

U.S. private prisons incarcerated 128,063 people in 2016, representing 8.5% of the total state and federal prison population.  
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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.
news
State Advocacy News: Transforming Closed Adult and Youth Prisons
July 31, 2018

State Advocacy News: Transforming Closed Adult and Youth Prisons

Lessons for stakeholders include prioritizing prison population reduction efforts and planning for prison repurposing.
publications
June 25, 2018

Letter to Senate on Advancing Sentencing Reform legislation

The Sentencing Project urges the Senate to move quickly to pass sentencing reform legislation, like the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 1917) sponsored by Senators Charles Grassley and Richard Durbin, to help create a safer, more equitable and fairer prison system.
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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
June 22, 2018

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.
news
State Advocacy News: Advocacy Planning for Criminal Justice Reform
June 18, 2018

State Advocacy News: Advocacy Planning for Criminal Justice Reform

Summer offers an opportunity for advocates to build momentum for policy and organizing goals. Our State Advocacy Newsletter offers strategies and tools you can use for your next campaign.
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Featured Story

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’.
publications
June 15, 2018

Letter Against Synthetic Drug Bill that Expands Penalties for Federal Drug Offenses

As part of a larger coalition, The Sentencing Project opposes the Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017 which would disproportionately incarcerate those with low-level federal drug offenses, concentrate power solely within the Department of Justice and criminalize people with substance use disorder who need treatment, not punishment.
news
NBC Nightly News: Kim Kardashian visits White House to talk prison and sentencing reform
June 04, 2018

NBC Nightly News: Kim Kardashian visits White House to talk prison and sentencing reform

Marc Mauer explains why sentencing reform is necessary to provide relief to the thousands of people in federal prison serving life without parole for non-violent drug offenses.
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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.
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