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Sentencing Policy

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U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Calls for Limiting Collateral Consequences
June 13, 2019

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Calls for Limiting Collateral Consequences

More than 44,000 collateral consequences exist nationwide that continue to punish people with felony records long after the completion of their sentence. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report provides actionable recommendations to the President, Congress and federal agencies on how to scale back these punishments.
publications
June 06, 2019

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.
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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’.
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State Advocacy News: Steps to Challenge Mass Incarceration
May 29, 2019

State Advocacy News: Steps to Challenge Mass Incarceration

Many state legislatures are in the final days of session. The next few months are an opportunity for community organizers and policy advocates to reflect on recent successes and challenges in the movement to end mass incarceration.
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Vox: Amy Klobuchar has a plan to reverse the war on drugs — and doesn’t need Congress to do it
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.
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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.
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State Advocacy News: Grassroots Strategies to End Life Imprisonment
April 29, 2019

State Advocacy News: Grassroots Strategies to End Life Imprisonment

State groups in California and New York are anchoring grassroots efforts to limit extreme sentences in support of scaling back mass incarceration.
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Louisiana denies parole to 72-year-old Henry Montgomery
April 15, 2019

Louisiana denies parole to 72-year-old Henry Montgomery

On April 11, the state of Louisiana denied Henry Montgomery’s request for parole for the second time. He is 72 years old, and has been incarcerated since 1963. In 1969, he was sentenced to a term of life without the possibility of parole.
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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.
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Race & Justice News: Violent Rap Lyrics Are Not Confessions
April 12, 2019

Race & Justice News: Violent Rap Lyrics Are Not Confessions

Rappers explain that violent rap lyrics are not confessions to Supreme Court, LAPD plans to change its data-driven policing program, Maryland lawmakers allow Johns Hopkins University to create armed police, and more in Race & Justice News.
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Vox: New Zealand may impose impose a life without parole sentence for first time
April 10, 2019

Vox: New Zealand may impose impose a life without parole sentence for first time

Vox's German Lopez highlights how life sentences are a rarity outside of the United States criminal justice system.
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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.
publications
April 02, 2019

The Next Step: Ending Excessive Punishment for Violent Crimes

The Next Step highlights 15 reforms in 19 states implemented over the past two decades that have produced more effective, fiscally sound, and humane policies for people convicted of violent crimes.  
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State Advocacy News: Mid-Session Trends in Challenging Life Imprisonment
March 28, 2019

State Advocacy News: Mid-Session Trends in Challenging Life Imprisonment

At least 16 states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation authorizing retroactive sentencing remedies for persons sentenced to life imprisonment.
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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.
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