The Sentencing Project News
March 11, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
Marc Mauer's Testimony to Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections
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
Addressing Upstream Policies
Unlocking the Vote
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:
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.
February 12, 2015 (The Toronto Star)
FBI director acknowledges racial bias in policing
During his speech on race and policing at Georgetown Univeristy on Thursday, FBI director James Comey quoted a show tune and admitted that some police officers are prejudiced against the black community.
“We all, white and black, carry various biases around with us,” he said at Georgetown University on Thursday. “I am reminded of the song from the Broadway hit Avenue Q, “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,” part of which goes like this: “Look around and you will find/No one’s really colourblind/Maybe it’s a fact/We all should face/Everyone makes judgments/Based on race.”
The frank acknowledgment of racial bias by a successor to J. Edgar Hoover was hailed by policing reform advocates as a historic moment. Marc Morial, chief executive of the National Urban League, and Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, said in interviews that they had never heard anything similar from any of Comey’s six predecessors.