February 03, 2020
Race & Justice News: St. Louis Prosecutor Fights “Racially Motivated Conspiracy”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner alleges some city leaders have tried to undermine her efforts to fight police misconduct and reform the local criminal justice system. Gardner, St. Louis’s first African American top prosecutor, is suing the city under an 1871 federal civil rights law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.
January 31, 2020
The Appeal: The Death Penalty Is Part Of A Larger System of Punishment
As the number of people on death row decreases, the number of people serving life sentences has risen. Abolishing the death penalty should not serve as a way to replace one extreme sentence with another—but as a first step to reform extreme sentences altogether, says The Sentencing Project's Ashley Nellis.
January 28, 2020
Disenfranchisement News: FL Supreme Court rules all costs must be paid to regain voting rights
Florida rules all costs must be paid to restore voting rights, Georgia Senate study committee votes to not expand voting rights, and more in our latest Disenfranchisement News.
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.
January 28, 2020
Letter to House Judiciary Committee on Classwide Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues
The Sentencing Project wrote to the House Judiciary Committee in opposition of S. 3201, the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act and urged committee members to exclude the application of mandatory minimum sentences for cases prosecuted under this authority.
January 26, 2020
Washington Post: William Barr’s new war on drugs
Former U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner discusses Attorney General William P. Barr’s support for an expansion of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes involving fentanyl analogues.
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’.
January 17, 2020
Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019
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 2019.
December 23, 2019
State Advocacy News: Strategizing to End Life Imprisonment
As the movement to challenge mass incarceration evolves there is growing attention being given to the dramatic impact of life sentences on the prison population. In 2019 national and state groups worked to build the base of support for ending life imprisonment. State advocates and organizers facilitated connections through strategy sessions to support reform.
December 19, 2019
A death by any other name
Declining support for the death penalty is a victory, but its presence or absence shouldn't be our sole barometer for a proportionate sentencing regime. Life without parole as the "humane alternative" to death is highly problematic.
December 18, 2019
Race & Justice News: Department of Justice Frames Reforms as Anti-Police
The Department of Justice has framed policing and prosecutorial reforms as anti-police. In recent months, other DOJ officials have joined Attorney General William Barr in similarly framing local prosecutorial reforms.
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.