The Sentencing Project News
June 4, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
Virginia: Disenfranchisement Reform Advances
June 3, 2013 (The Washington Post)
Disenfranchised: A stain on Virginia’s democracy!
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell took office admirably determined to change a scandalously antiquated system by which the state has deprived several hundred thousand felons of their voting rights — permanently. To his credit, he’s done a better job than any of his predecessors at restoring the vote for former offenders who have served their sentences.
But measured against the problem, the governor’s efforts have amounted to little. Given that more than half of the state’s prison population is African American, the result is a stain on the state’s democracy.
The essential problem is a provision in the state’s constitution, reaffirmed by racist lawmakers more than a century ago, that deprives felons of the vote unless their rights are individually restored by the governor. Only Florida, Iowa and Kentucky are as punitive.
June 3, 2013 (The New York Times)
Restoring the Vote in Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia enlarged democracy last Wednesday when he announced an order requiring the automatic restoration of voting rights for nonviolent offenders who have historically had to fight through a bureaucratic maze to gain access to the polls.
Governor McDonnell’s order, which could cover more than 100,000 people, reflects a growing awareness that disenfranchisement serves no rehabilitative purpose — and may, in fact, contribute to further criminal behavior by forcing former offenders to the margins of society.
In all, nearly six million Americans — about 2.5 percent of the voting-age population — are barred from voting by a confusing patchwork of state laws that strip convicted offenders of the right to vote, often temporarily, but sometimes for life.
May 31, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
Groups Call on Congress to Restore Food Assistance
Last week, the U.S. Senate accepted an amendment to the Farm Bill that would deny food stamps to anyone ever convicted of certain offenses and reduce benefits for the person's household. The hastily considered amendment is unjust, cruel, and counterproductive.
May 29, 2013 (Richmond Times)
McDonnell to speed rights process for nonviolent offenders
Gov. Bob McDonnell today will announce that he is automatically restoring the voting rights of nonviolent felons on an individual basis.
The sweeping administrative action - while not an instantaneous blanket restoration - is as far as the governor can go within current Virginia law, administration officials said.
The change, effective July 15, removes the application process for nonviolent felons. Once the administration verifies a nonviolent felon has paid his debt to society, the governor will send the individual a letter restoring his rights.
May 29, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
Race and Justice News
Research: Wisconsin Leads Nation in Rate of Black Male Incarceration
May 28, 2013 (The Urban Institute)
Urban Institute Panel Discusses Alternatives to Incarceration
Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, joined other experts in a conversation with Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to discuss the Obama Administration’s plans to support innovative alternatives to incarceration and policies that reduce drug use and its consequences.
May 28, 2013 (TheStar.com)
Why the days of 'America's toughest sheriff’ may be numbered
The mantra of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — the man the media calls “America’s toughest sheriff” is: “Make the criminals as uncomfortable as the law allows.”
Arpaio, 88, is beginning his 22nd year in office, having won his sixth consecutive term as sheriff.
Nothing has been able to dislodge him — not a federal grand jury that investigated him for abuse of power; not the Department of Justice, which effectively labeled him a racist for his treatment of Latinos in his crackdown on illegal immigration; not a citizen-led recall movement.
But a change in American corrections policy could do to Sheriff Joe what his opponents have not: render him outdated and expendable.
May 28, 2013 (eNews Park Forest)
Coalition calls for “a people’s budget, not a prison budget”
In an unprecedented action against mass incarceration, a statewide coalition is embarking on a 100 mile march across Pennsylvania to demand “A People’s Budget, Not a Prison Budget.” The march will start in Philadelphia at Love Park at noon on May 25 and conclude with a noontime rally at the state capitol building in Harrisburg on June 3, as the state legislature reconvenes to discuss the budget for next year.
Marchers are demanding that the General Assembly refuse to pass a budget with increases in corrections spending. They further call for the governor to stop the $400 million construction of two new prisons in Montgomery County, outside Philadelphia.
Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, said: “At a time when prison populations are finally beginning to decline nationally, it’s unfortunate that Pennsylvania is planning to build new prisons.”
May 20, 2013 (Utah Public Radio)
Marc Mauer and Sabrina Jones address US incarceration on Utah Public Radio
The United States’ rate of incarceration is the highest in the world. Why and how did this happen? Marc Mauer’s Race to Incarcerate,first published in 1999, has become an important text for understanding the growth of the US prison system and a canonical work for those active in the US criminal justice reform movement.
Now Sabrina Jones, a member of the World War 3 Illustrated collective and an author of politically engaged comics, has collaborated with Mauer to adapt and update the original book into a comics narrative, Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling, designed to reach new audiences. Listen here.