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Marc Mauer
Executive Director

Marc Mauer is one of the country’s leading experts on sentencing policy, race, and the criminal justice system. He has directed programs on criminal justice policy reform for 30 years, and is the author of some of the most widely-cited reports and publications in the field. The Atlantic magazine has described him as a scholar who has “reframed how Americans view crime, race, and poverty in the public sphere.” His 1995 report on racial disparity and the criminal justice system led The New York Times to editorialize that the report “should set off alarm bells from the White House to city halls – and help reverse the notion that we can incarcerate our way out of fundamental social problems.”

Race to Incarcerate, Mauer’s groundbreaking book on how sentencing policies led to the explosive expansion of the U.S. prison population, was a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1999. A second edition was published in 2006 and a 2013 graphic novel version was cited by the American Library Association as one of the “Great Graphic Novels” of the year. Mauer is also the co-editor of Invisible Punishment, a 2002 collection of essays by prominent criminal justice experts on the social cost of imprisonment.

Mauer began his work in criminal justice with the American Friends Service Committee in 1975, and served as the organization’s National Justice Communications Coordinator. Since joining The Sentencing Project in 1987, he has testified before Congress and state legislatures, frequently appears on radio and television networks, and is regularly interviewed by The New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, and many other major media outlets. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University and Payne Theological Seminary, as well as a consultant to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Justice, and the American Bar Association’s Committee on Race and the Criminal Justice System. In 2005, he became Executive Director of The Sentencing Project.

Mauer has received the Helen L. Buttenweiser Award from the Fortune Society (1991), the Donald Cressey Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for contributions to criminal justice research (1996), the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award from the Drug Policy Alliance for achievement in drug policy scholarship (2003), the Maud Booth Correctional Services Award from Volunteers of America (2008), the John Augustus Award from the National Association of Sentencing Advocates (2009), the Margaret Mead Award from the International Community Corrections Association (2009), and the Inside/Out Summit Award from Centerforce (2011).

Mauer received his undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan.

Written By Marc Mauer
publications
May 22, 2017

Testimony to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Eliminating Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

news
Voting Rights for Individuals with Felony Convictions
May 18, 2016

Voting Rights for Individuals with Felony Convictions

Marc Mauer
Voting is a fundamental right of democracy that should include all individuals, including those with felony convictions.
publications
October 19, 2015

Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015

In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Marc Mauer urges Congress to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, a bipartisan reform bill introduced earlier this month. The legislation would take a number of steps forward to reverse harsh penalties that have come at a ruinous cost to families and taxpayers while producing diminishing returns for public safety.
publications
March 11, 2015

A Proposal to Reduce Time Served in Federal Prison

In testimony delivered to the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer calls for reforms to federal sentencing structures to create an upper limit of no more than 20 years in prison, barring exceptional circumstances.
publications
March 05, 2015

Letter in Support of the REDEEM Act (S. 675)

The bipartisan REDEEM Act would repeal the felony drug ban for some people convicted of non-violent drug offenses. It would allow the sealing of criminal records and improve the accuracy of FBI background checks. And it would make necessary improvements to the treatment of young people who encounter the juvenile justice system.
publications
December 09, 2014

Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on “The State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States”

The Sentencing Project submitted a written statement for inclusion in the record of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on “The State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States.” In this statement, we seek to bring attention to the causes of mass incarceration and racial injustice, the failures of mandatory minimum penalties, and the deeply problematic policy of felony disenfranchisement.
publications
September 12, 2014

Testimony to Nevada Advisory Commission on Trends in Sentencing and Incarceration

Marc Mauer testified before the Nevada Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice on trends in sentencing and incarceration over the past several decades. The testimony assesses the impact of incarceration on crime rates, examines the evolving movement for reform, and recommends that policymakers consider an appropriate mix of prison and non-punitive approaches to promote public safety.
publications
July 23, 2014

Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States

Three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – have reduced their prison populations by about 25% while seeing their crime rates generally decline at a faster pace than the national average.
publications
Comment on 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment Retroactivity
July 03, 2014

Comment on 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment Retroactivity

The Sentencing Project argues in comments submitted to the U.S. Sentencing Commission that there is no sound basis on which to have sentence dates determine sentence lengths, and that partial retroactivity would exacerbate racial disparities in federal sentencing.
publications
March 14, 2014

Comment on Proposed Drug Sentencing Amendment

In comments submitted to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, The Sentencing Project argued that there is no sound basis on which to have sentence dates determine sentence lengths, and that partial retroactivity would exacerbate racial disparities in federal sentencing.
publications
November 14, 2013

A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits

Marc Mauer and Virginia McCalmont
A provision of the 1996 welfare reform legislation passed by Congress subjects an estimated 180,000 women in the 12 most impacted states to a lifetime ban on welfare benefits.
publications
April 11, 2013

Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling

Marc Mauer and Sabrina Jones
Marc Mauer’s landmark book on race, class, and the criminal justice system has been adapted as a work of inspired graphic storytelling by Sabrina Jones.
publications
February 27, 2013

The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women's Incarceration

This report highlights factors contributing to the dramatic shift in the racial composition of women’s prison population between 2000 to 2009, and provides recommendations to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
publications
February 11, 2013

Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on School Safety

When crises strike, there is often a temptation to tighten sanctions and add new punishments, but we know that these actions have a disparate effect on at-risk youth—especially youth of color—long after the crisis has passed.
publications
August 01, 2012

Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Rising Prison Costs

Testimony of Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, prepared for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, "Rising Prison Costs: Restricting Budgets and Crime Prevention Options."
publications
February 16, 2012

Testimony to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Racial Disparity

Marc Mauer's testimony before the U.S Sentencing Commission on issues of racial disparity in federal sentencing following the changes in federal guidelines as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Booker v. United States.
publications
September 12, 2011

Addressing Racial Disparities in Incarceration

In a special issue of The Prison Journal, Marc Mauer examines the causes and consequences of the extreme racial disparities in incarceration in the U.S. The article assesses effects on public safety and communities, and offers recommendations for reform in policy and practice to reduce unwarranted disparities.
publications
September 08, 2011

Letter to Senate Judiciary in Favor of Felony Disenfranchisement Reform

In a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on the occasion of its hearing to review recent voter suppression, The Sentencing Project urged the subcommittee to consider the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws and to support reforms.  
publications
August 09, 2011

Letter to EEOC on Employment Obstacles for People with Criminal Records

In response to a recent hearing on the employment challenges faced by people with criminal records, The Sentencing Project submitted a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supporting its review of the issue and urging aggressive action to stop employment discrimination.
publications
June 24, 2011

Justice for All? Challenging Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Americans should be troubled by the extent incarceration has become a fixture in the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. Beyond the socioeconomic consequences, racial disparities in the criminal justice system erode trust in the overall justice system.
publications
June 23, 2011

Voting Behind Bars: An Argument for Voting by Prisoners

The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer argues that felony disenfranchisement practices are inherently undemocratic and counterproductive for public safety, including for persons serving prison sentences.  
publications
June 01, 2011

Testimony to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Crack Cocaine Retroactivity

In testimony before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Marc Mauer argued that the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine should be applied retroactively for individuals currently in prison. If adopted by the Commission, retroactivity would reduce the sentences of about 12,000 federal prisoners by an average of three years.
 
publications
May 17, 2011

Sentencing Reform: Amid Mass Incarcerations, Guarded Optimism

In this article published by the American Bar Association, The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer assesses the range of policy changes at both the state and federal level, and provides an analysis of the obstacles to more substantial reform.
publications
March 17, 2011

Testimony to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010

Testimony delivered by The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer to the U.S. Sentencing Commission regarding implementation of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.
publications
September 22, 2010

The Impact of Mandatory Minimum Penalties in Federal Sentencing

This article published in Judicature examines two issues regarding mandatory sentencing: First, what effect have federal mandatory minimum penalties had on public safety? And second, to what extent have these penalties exacerbated existing racial disparities within the criminal justice system?
publications
June 07, 2010

Testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions

This testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security examines how convictions can impose barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated reforms and provides recommendations for reform.
publications
May 26, 2010

Testimony to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Mandatory Minimums

Testimony to the United States Sentencing Commission on the impact of mandatory minimum penalties in federal sentencing.
publications
March 16, 2010

Testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on the Democracy Restoration Act of 2009

Testimony submitted to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in strong support of H.R. 3335, the Democracy Restoration Act of 2009.
publications
March 01, 2010

Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States

Judith Greene and Marc Mauer
Four states – Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York – have reduced their prison populations by 5-20% since 1999 without any increases in crime.
publications
January 13, 2010

Two-Tiered Justice: Race, Class, and Crime Policy

The Integration Debate (Routledge, 2009) explores both long-standing and emerging controversies over the nation's ongoing struggles with discrimination and segregation. The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer authored a chapter exploring the relationships between race, class, and criminal justice policy.
publications
May 01, 2009

Testimony to House Judiciary on Federal Cocaine Sentencing

In his testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer identifies the fundamental inequities that uniquely exist within the federal drug laws for crack cocaine, as well as the inefficiencies in enforcement operations that result from these laws.
publications
April 01, 2009

The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs

There has been a significant shift in the racial composition of people incarcerated for a drug offense in recent years. Our analysis documents that the number of African Americans in state prisons for a drug offense declined by 21.6% from 1999 to 2005, while the number of whites incarcerated for a drug offense rose by 42.6% during this period.
publications
January 01, 2009

Racial Impact Statements: Changing Policies to Address Disparities

The premise behind racial impact statements is that policies often have unintended consequences that would be best addressed prior to adoption of new initiatives. In this article published in the American Bar Association magazine, Criminal Justice, The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer describes how racial impact statements can improve racial justice outcomes in the criminal justice system.
publications
January 02, 2008

Racial Impact Statements as a Means of Reducing Unwarranted Sentencing Disparities

One way to address the dramatic racial disparities that pervade the criminal justice system is by adopting racial impact statements as a requirement for consideration of new sentencing legislation.
publications
September 01, 2007

A 25-Year Quagmire: The War On Drugs and Its Impact on American Society

Marc Mauer and Ryan King
Our analysis, based on an analysis of 25 years of government data regarding drugs and the criminal justice system, finds that the "war on drugs" has increasingly targeted low-level offenders for arrest and incarceration, and is largely failing to provide adequate treatment in prison.
publications
June 26, 2007

Testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Mandatory Minimum Laws

This testimony examines the impact of the current generation of mandatory sentencing policies in the federal system, the vast majority of which have been applied to drug offenses, and the lessons that can be taken in order to develop more effective public policy.
publications
June 22, 2007

Testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Reducing Racial Disparity in the Justice System

This testimony recommends the reform of policies such as “school zone drug laws” that produce unwarranted racial disparities, requiring racial impact statements to accompany new sentencing proposals, establishing racial justice task forces, and promoting justice reinvestment.
publications
January 01, 2006

Race to Incarcerate

In this revised edition of his seminal book on race, class, and the criminal justice system, Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, offers the most up-to-date look available at three decades of prison expansion in America.
publications
May 01, 2005

The War on Marijuana: The Transformation of the War on Drugs in the 1990s

Ryan King and Marc Mauer
National analysis finds marijuana arrests constitute 82% of the increase in drug arrests for the period 1990 to 2002, which represents nearly half (45%) of the 1.5 million drug arrests annually.
publications
March 01, 2005

Thinking About Prison and its Impact in the Twenty-First Century

The text of the Fifteenth Annual Walter C. Reckless Memorial Lecture at The Ohio State University delivered by Marc Mauer in 2004.
publications
February 01, 2005

Barred for Life: Voting Rights Restoration in Permanent Disenfranchisement States

Marc Mauer and Tushar Kansal
In 14 states, some or all persons convicted of a felony can be considered to be permanently disenfranchised. This report represents the first national survey of the restoration process in each of the 14 states.
publications
January 01, 2005

Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship

Ryan King, Marc Mauer, and Malcolm Young
This briefing paper provides an aid to policymakers and the public by reviewing what is known about the effects of incarceration on crime.
publications
October 01, 2004

Lessons of the "Get Tough" Movement in the United States

Marc Mauer's remarks at the International Corrections and Prison Association's 6th Annual Conference in Beijing, China.
publications
September 01, 2004

The Vanishing Black Electorate: Felony Disenfranchisement in Atlanta, Georgia

Ryan King and Marc Mauer
First-of-its-kind study documenting the localized impact of disenfranchisement; quantifies the role that disenfranchisement plays in general voter registration patterns as well as community political participation in Atlanta, Georgia.
publications
May 01, 2004

The Meaning of "Life": Long Prison Sentences in Context

Marc Mauer, Ryan King, and Malcolm Young
In this report we assess the dramatic increase in the imposition of life sentences in the context of incapacitation and public safety, fiscal costs, and the sentencing goal of punishment, including the implications for both victims and offenders.
publications
June 01, 2003

Comparative International Rates of Incarceration: An Examination of Causes and Trends

In testimony delivered to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, The Sentencing Project's Assistant Director Marc Mauer identifies the factors responsible for exorbitant U.S. incarceration rates and provides international comparisons.
publications
May 01, 2003

Invisible Punishment Policies Irrational, Counterproductive

The dramatic expansion of the prison system, fueled by incarceration for drug offenses, has combined with new legislative initiatives to subject growing numbers of people to significant hurdles in access to housing, education, and financial benefits as they reenter the community.
publications
February 01, 2003

Big Prisons, Small Towns: Prison Economics in Rural America

Ryan King, Marc Mauer, and Tracy Huling
Although prisons create jobs, an examination of rural counties in New York reveals that prison building has few economic benefits for local communities.
publications
September 01, 2002

Distorted Priorities: Drug Offenders in State Prisons

Ryan King and Marc Mauer
Our analysis of different measures of drug offender behavior overall indicates that there is significant potential for diverting many state prison drug offenders from incarceration.
publications
February 01, 2002

State Sentencing and Corrections Policy in an Era of Fiscal Restraint

Ryan King and Marc Mauer
This report highlights the significant legislative initiatives of 2001 in regard to criminal justice policy, and provides an overview of fiscal actions taken or proposed to date that are likely to affect the course of policy in many states.
publications
January 01, 2002

Disenfranchisement of Felons: The Modern Day Voting Rights Challenge

Published in Civil Rights Journal, this article provides an overview of the rationale underlying disenfranchisement policy, consequences of the practice, and the need for reform.
publications
January 01, 2002

Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment

Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind
The first comprehensive examination of the hidden ramifications of conviction on individuals, families, and communities, incorporates essays from leading scholars and advocates and defines a new field of inquiry in criminal justice.  
publications
November 01, 1999

Gender and Justice: Women, Drugs, and Sentencing Policy

Marc Mauer, Cathy Potler, and Richard Wolf
This report examines the impact of drug offenses and sentencing policy on women at the national level and in New York, California and Minnesota.
publications
April 15, 1999

The Crisis of the Young African American Male and the Criminal Justice System

In testimony before the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Marc Mauer documents the causes and consequences of high rates of criminal justice contact for black men and provides policy recommendations for reform.
publications
October 01, 1998

Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States

Jamie Fellner and Marc Mauer
This groundbreaking report published in collaboration with Human Rights Watch includes state-by-state estimates of disenfranchisement rates, documents the racially disparate impact, discusses the history and impact of the practice, and presents arguments for abolition of the policy.
publications
October 01, 1995

Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later

Marc Mauer and Tracy Huling
In this follow-up study, we find that many of the contributing factors to high rates of criminal justice contact for young black Americans five years ago endure or have worsened in the intervening years.