June 28, 2019
State Advocacy News: Local Strategies to Address Life Imprisonment
State organizers and advocates are challenging mass incarceration through reforms to recalibrate life and long prison terms. These efforts require legal reforms to correct the nation’s sentencing systems.
May 16, 2019
Criminal justice includes food security — we can't ban the social safety net
State that have rejected the tough on crime approach to welfare reform have improved public safety outcomes.
Lawrence and Lamont Garrison
Sentences for federal drug crimes are based on the quantity of the drugs involved, not the individual’s role in the crime. The emphasis on quantity rather than the role of the offender, along with the conspiracy laws, too often result in disproportionate sentencing, even for first-time offenses such as the Garrisons’.
May 02, 2019
Vox: Amy Klobuchar has a plan to reverse the war on drugs — and doesn’t need Congress to do it
In an effort to scale back mass incarceration and the war on drugs, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar outlined a plan to set up a new system of clemency that would release thousands of people in federal prison with excessively long sentences, reports Vox.
March 04, 2019
Race & Justice News: Misunderstanding African American English in Court
Philadelphia court reporters regularly made errors in transcribing sentences that were spoken in African American English (AAE), South Carolina's civil asset forfeitures unevenly impact black men, and more in Race & Justice News.
February 01, 2019
State Advocacy News: Strategies to end life imprisonment, expand the vote, and strengthen reentry policies
Since Florida's success with the passage of Amendment 4, lawmakers and advocates in California, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey and Kentucky have advanced proposals to restore voting rights.
Theresa McIntyre Smith
In 1999, Theresa Smith was arrested at an airport after she met a drug courier in Roy Mercer’s network and according to the government, identified a suitcase containing eleven kilograms of cocaine for the courier. Smith said she had been told by Mercer that the suitcase contained his nieces’ clothes. For this first-time non-violent offense, Smith was sentenced to a ten-year mandatory prison term.
December 14, 2018
The Sentencing Project Urges Senate to Oppose Cotton - Kennedy Amendment to the First Step Act
The Sentencing Project urges the Senate to pass the First Step Act without amendment #4109, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and John Kennedy—which is designed to derail the legislation and weaken its rehabilitation incentive program.
November 28, 2018
The Sentencing Project Calls on Congress to Pass First Step Act
In a letter sent to Senate and House leadership, The Sentencing Project urged Congress to move quickly to pass the sentencing reform measures in the First Step Act (S.3649) "to help create a safer, more equitable and fairer justice system."
Willie Mays Aikens
In 2008, Willie Mays Aikens made headlines when a federal judge reduced his lengthy prison term to 14 years as a result of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s adjustment to the crack cocaine sentencing guidelines. Aikens was released in June 2008.
November 07, 2018
State Criminal Justice Reform and the 2018 Midterms
Voters across the nation considered a number of criminal justice reform measures—ranging from voting rights to sentencing reform.
November 05, 2018
State Advocacy News: Retroactivity and Criminal Justice Reform
Voters decide on ballot proposals for retroactive sentencing and the restoration of voting rights to people with felony convictions.
At 24 years old, Kemba Smith was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison for conspiracy to participate in her boyfriend's drug activities, a non-violent, first-time offense. For years, her parents galvanized a tireless movement seeking clemency for their daughter.