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Sentencing Policy

publications
February 24, 2021

Racial Impact Statements

Racial impact statements are a tool for lawmakers to evaluate potential disparities of proposed legislation prior to adoption and implementation. Analogous to fiscal impact statements, they assist legislators in detecting unforeseen policy ramifications.
publications
February 18, 2021

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

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’.
publications
February 17, 2021

No End In Sight: America's Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment

Ashley Nellis
In the United States, more than 200,000 people are serving life sentences – one out of every seven in prison.
publications
February 03, 2021

Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Persist

Josh Rovner
In an era of declining youth incarceration, Black and American Indian youth are still overwhelmingly more likely to be held in custody than their white peers.
Featured Story
Featured Story

Christopher Poulos

When Chris Poulos was arrested, he experienced firsthand the difference that money can make in the criminal justice system. He recounts the experience in his own words.
publications
January 15, 2021

Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2020

In recent years most states have enacted reforms designed to reduce the scale of incarceration and the impact of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. This briefing paper describes key reforms that were prioritized in 2020.
publications
November 24, 2020

Incarcerated Women and Girls

Over the past quarter century, there has been a profound change in the involvement of women within the criminal justice system. This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women.
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: Community Challenges to Life Imprisonment
October 30, 2020

State Advocacy News: Community Challenges to Life Imprisonment

The Sentencing Project convened a national day of action in commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the Attica uprising and to demand life sentenced prisoners be included in COVID-19-related decarceration efforts. Groups around the country organized grassroots actions in support of prison releases.
news
Race & Justice News: Disarming Traffic Enforcement
September 28, 2020

Race & Justice News: Disarming Traffic Enforcement

Sentencing disparities examined in Massachusetts and Washtenaw County, Michigan, federal prosecutors targeted black communities while handling DC gun charges, Berkley to disarms traffic enforcement, and more in Race & Justice News.
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 Update: From Defund the Police to Defund Prisons
August 26, 2020

State Advocacy Update: From Defund the Police to Defund Prisons

The Sentencing Project hosted an online discussion highlighting efforts in California and Colorado to decarcerate and prioritize funding towards crime prevention and community.
publications
August 25, 2020

Trends in U.S. Corrections

The Sentencing Project's key fact sheet provides a compilation of major developments in the criminal justice system over the past several decades.
Featured Story
Featured Story

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.
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