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Issues

Incarceration

publications
September 17, 2019

U.S. Prison Population Trends: Massive Buildup and Modest Decline

While most states have downsized their prison populations in recent years, the pace of decarceration is insufficient to undo nearly four decades of unrelenting growth.
publications
August 29, 2019

Virtual Life Sentences

Over 44,000 people around the country are serving a sentence of 50 years or more. This fact sheet provides a summary of this long-overlooked population of individuals serving such sentences.
Featured Story
Featured Story

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.
news
State Advocacy News: Building the Base to End Life Imprisonment
August 22, 2019

State Advocacy News: Building the Base to End Life Imprisonment

Grassroots organizing is one of the strategies needed to end life imprisonment. Bringing the power of those directly impacted by long prison terms to the surface makes space for individuals to challenge extreme sentences.
news
Support Criminal Justice Reform in the District
August 13, 2019

Support Criminal Justice Reform in the District

A bill before the District of Columbia Council would extend sentence reviews to people convicted for an offense before turning 25, allowing a second look for more people who deserve a chance to reenter society.
Featured Story
Featured Story

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’.
news
Disenfranchisement News: Arizona eliminates
August 09, 2019

Disenfranchisement News: Arizona eliminates "poll tax" for people with first-time felony offenses

Arizona eliminates "poll tax" for people with first-time felony offenses, Florida's legal battle on new voting rights measure continues, and more in our latest Disenfranchisement News.
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Private prisons are only one part of our mass incarceration problem
August 08, 2019

Private prisons are only one part of our mass incarceration problem

Modest approaches only targeting prison privatization aren't enough to end prison abuses or mass incarceration. Bold ideas and significant resources are necessary to dismantle mass incarceration and overcriminalization.
Featured Story
Featured Story

Dorothy Gaines

Dorothy Gaines's life changed when Alabama state police raided her home for drugs. Police found no evidence of Gaines having possessed or sold drugs, yet federal prosecutors charged Gaines with drug conspiracy.
news
State Advocacy News: Working with Crime Survivors to Challenge Life Imprisonment
July 29, 2019

State Advocacy News: Working with Crime Survivors to Challenge Life Imprisonment

State coalitions challenging life imprisonment include a range of voices like persons formerly serving life prison terms, faith leaders, and restorative justice practitioners. Crime survivors are also key allies in scaling back life imprisonment. Victim led advocacy represents a range of perspectives.
publications
July 23, 2019

Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Overview

Josh Rovner
The United States stands alone as the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for crimes committed before turning 18. This briefing paper reviews the Supreme Court precedents that limited the use of JLWOP and the challenges that remain.
Featured Story
Featured Story
December 01, 2017

James Inge

James D. Inge is one of 300 individuals age 60 or older arrested between 1965 and 1980 that was sentenced to life imprisonment in Pennsylvania. Learn more about his campaign to give rehabilitated seniors serving life a second chance.
publications
July 17, 2019

WEBINAR: Take the Next Step to End Mass incarceration

The next step to ending mass incarceration must include scaling back excessive penalties for people convicted of violent crimes.
publications
July 12, 2019

WEBINAR: Women and Life Imprisonment

The Sentencing Project's Campaign to End Life Imprisonment hosted a webinar discussing research and advocacy around women serving life imprisonment.
Featured Story
Featured Story

Kemba Smith

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.
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