The Sentencing Project News
November 19, 2014
State Advocacy Update: 2014 Midterm Analysis and More
2014 Midterm Analysis
Helpful Campaign Strategies
Reducing Prison Population
November 17, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
New Publication: Incorporating Racial Equity into Criminal Justice Reform
There are few areas of American society where racial disparities are as profound and as troubling as in the criminal justice system. Our newest report, Incorporating Racial Equity into Criminal Justice Reform, provides an overview of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and a framework for developing and implementing remedies for these disparities.
November 14, 2014 (The Daily Journal)
Support grows to end excessive punishment
The success of California’s Proposition 47 — the ballot initiative that reduces penalties for drug possession and certain property crimes — may mark a new day for criminal justice reform. With a 58 percent victory margin, voters rejected some of the excesses of the “tough on crime” era. Prop. 47 signaled, according to the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, that voters are no longer “in the same fearful, punishing mood as when they passed three-strikes and other harsh initiatives.” But as encouraging as this reform is, California must take even bolder steps to tackle its high rate of incarceration.
Prop. 47’s key provision established higher monetary thresholds at which five property crimes become “wobblers” — offenses that prosecutors can charge as either felonies or misdemeanors. At values below $950, theft, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, and forging or writing bad checks will now be charged as misdemeanors for most people. In addition, possession of illegal drugs for personal use has also been reclassified to a misdemeanor.
Author: Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D.
November 7, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
Hot Off the Presses: The Sentencing Project's 2014 Newsletter
Our 2014 Newsletter is out! Read it to find out what we’ve been up to in the last year, including:
…and much more!
November 5, 2014
California Voters Pass Proposition 47 Sentencing Reform
California voters have approved Proposition 47, a ballot measure that will reclassify six low-level property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. These offenses include shoplifting, theft, and check fraud under $950, as well as personal use of most illegal drugs. State savings resulting from the measure are estimated to be at least $150 million a year and will be used to support school truancy and dropout prevention, victim services, mental health and drug abuse treatment, and other programs designed to expand alternatives to incarceration.
November 5, 2014 (The Liman Report, Yale Law School)
Leveraging the Moment: Resources for High Incarceration Communities
The coalition in support of criminal justice reform is expanding. I recently had the opportunity to present at the League of Women Voters’ national convention. In a meeting room at a Washington area hotel, older women from suburban communities in Missouri and Arizona were very concerned about the nation’s “war on drugs” and the failures of our prison system.
That afternoon underscored just how far the conversation has progressed in the past decade. Leaders from different ideological perspectives are calling for changes to the nation’s criminal justice system. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, recently announced an effort to lower the nation’s incarceration rate by fifty percent by 2050. And earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a significant expansion of the federal clemency process in order to reduce excessive prison terms for low-level drug offenders.
October 29, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
Race and Justice News
School to Prison Pipeline: Los Angeles Schools Revamp Discipline Policies
Courts: Citizenship Trumps Race in Federal Sentencing Disparities
Vivid Account of Challenges to Biased Jury Selection in North Carolina Capital Cases
Legal Analysis: Why and How the Supreme Court Should Recognize Implicit Racial Bias
October 24, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
Civil Rights Commission reports call for reform
California: 'Let me Vote' campaign spreads voting rights awareness
Florida: Candidate forced to withdraw due to prior felony conviction
Michigan: NAACP brings voting booths to county jails
Mississippi: Slim chance of reform during an election year
Ohio: Judge orders voting access for people jailed the weekend before an election
Wyoming: New bill to cut wait time for voting rights restoration
National: Felony disenfranchisement infographic
October 13, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
The Sentencing Project Files Amicus Brief in Federal Case Involving Mandatory Minimums
The Sentencing Project has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the Ninth Circuit that could exacerbate the ill-effects caused by mandatory minimum penalties.
October 2, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
Felony Disenfranchisement and the 2014 Midterm Elections
As the 2014 midterm elections approach, an estimated 5.85 million Americans will be unable to exercise their voting rights due to a current or previous felony conviction. Of the total disenfranchised population, 2.6 million have completed their sentences, yet are disenfranchised in the 12 states with the most restrictive policies. Overall, 75% of disenfranchised individuals are living in the community, either under probation or parole supervision, or having completed their sentences. Disenfranchisement policies have potentially affected the outcomes of previous U.S. elections, particularly as disenfranchisement laws disproportionately impact communities of color, leaving one in every 13 black adults voiceless in the electoral process.