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March 16, 2015
Race and Justice News: Girls in the School-to-Prison Pipeline

School-to-Prison Pipeline: Compendium of Suspension Trends for Grades K-12

Girls in the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Reforms: School Discipline Reforms in Texas, Minneapolis, New York, and California

Iowa's Racial Impact Legislation Having Modest Impact

Juvenile Justice: Unwarranted Racial Disparities and Increasing Punitiveness in Juvenile Justice

Drug Law Enforcement: Racial Differences in Drug Arrest Rates Cannot Be Explained by Drug Offending or Community Contexts


March 11, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
Marc Mauer's Testimony to Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections

Marc Mauer testifying to the Colson Task Force

In testimony delivered to the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, calls for reforms to federal sentencing structures to create an upper limit of no more than 20 years in prison, barring exceptional circumstances. Doing so would reduce the federal prison population considerably, avert unnecessary costs of incarceration, and provide resources for more effective public safety investments.


March 10, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
Senators Booker and Paul Reintroduce REDEEM Act to Protect and Restore Lives

On Monday, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) reintroduced the REDEEM Act (S. 675), legislation that would help to protect and restore the lives of individuals who have had contact with the criminal or juvenile justice system, while reducing recidivism.  

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.  


March 9, 2015
Disenfranchisement News: Minnesota and Maryland Advance Probation and Parole Voting Legislation

Kentucky: Kentucky House passes voting rights bill

Minnesota: Bipartisan bill expands voting rights to people on probation and parole

Maryland: Lawmaker with prior arrest record champions voting rights bill

National: Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act

Books: African American Disenfranchisement


March 4, 2015 (Slate)
OK, So Who Gets to Go Free?

It has become conventional wisdom that America’s prisons are too full, and prominent elected officials on both sides of the aisle have expressed enthusiastic support for reducing the number of Americans behind bars. Of course, different politicians have different ideas about how to pursue this goal. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, have proposed legislation that would make prison sentences shorter, by loosening mandatory minimum laws and giving judges more leeway in doling out punishment. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D–Rhode Island, are pushing to allow more inmates to leave prison early by going through rehabilitation programs.


March 3, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Advocacy Campaign Leadership

Advocacy Leadership

Addressing Upstream Policies

Unlocking the Vote

Other News

State legislatures are in full swing. This year, legislation has been introduced in Kentucky to reclassify certain felony offenses to misdemeanors, eliminating prison as a sentencing option. Lawmakers in Maryland and Minnesota are considering expanding voting rights to persons on felony probation or parole. And advocates in Missouri are working to scale back the state's truth-in-sentencing provision for certain offenses.


February 24, 2015
The State of Sentencing 2014: Developments in Policy and Practice

The State of Sentencing 2014 highlights policy changes in 30 states and the District of Columbia in both the adult and juvenile justice systems, including scaling back sentences for low-level drug offenses, reducing barriers to reentry, and eliminating juvenile life without parole. The reforms highlighted in this report represent approaches that lawmakers and advocates can consider to address sentencing policy and collateral consequences at the state level.


Author: Nicole D. Porter
February 24, 2015
State Criminal Justice Advocacy in a Conservative Environment

State Criminal Justice Advocacy in a Conservative Environment documents successful advocacy strategies employed in campaigns in Indiana, Missouri, and Texas. 

In these states, advocates achieved the following reforms:

  • Reduced enhanced penalties in drug-free zones in Indiana by shrinking the limit of zones from 1,000 feet to 500 feet, and eliminating all zones except those around schools and parks
  • Modified Missouri’s federal lifetime ban on food stamp benefits for persons with felony drug convictions
  • Closed two Texas prison facilities: the Dawson State Jail and the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility

Author: Nicole D. Porter
February 13, 2015 (The Huffington Post)
Politics of Black Lives Matter: Broadening Public Safety Priorities Beyond Arrests and Prisons

The Huffington Post recently published a piece by Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project, as part of the "Black Future Month" series celebrating Black History Month. Each day in February, this series will look at one of 28 different cultural and political issues affecting Black lives, from education to criminal justice reform.


February 12, 2015 (Salon)
“It starts off as an arrest and things get out of control”: Why Broken Windows must be scaled back

Earlier this week, a grand jury in New York City decided to indict an NYPD officer for recklessly wielding his authority and taking the life of a young African-American man named Akai Gurley. Finally, after a summer and fall characterized by racial strife and conflict between police officers and minority communities, the system was working, right? The answer is, yes and no — because unlike the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, the officer indicted in this instance, a 27-year-old named Peter Liang, was not white. And among the African-Americans in Brooklyn who knew the late Gurley, this fact did not go unnoticed.

As is sadly always the case in today’s media environment, the #blacklivesmatter story has faded considerably since it dominated television broadcasts and newspapers all over the country. But the problem that the #blacklivesmatter movement is trying to address — the problem of a criminal justice system that is institutionally and endemically biased against African-Americans, and indeed all people of color — has not gone away. Which is why “Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System,” a new report from The Sentencing Project, is so important.