Sentencing Reform

The First Step Act: Ending Mass Incarceration in Federal Prisons highlights the success of the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation signed into law in 2018, which promotes rehabilitation and reduces some excessive sentences in the federal prison system.

Sentencing Reform

Key Publications

There may be those who make the argument that someone has been incarcerated so long that they cannot function in society, so they should remain in prison. Shame on us if we’ve incarcerated someone so long that it becomes a reason why they need to continue to be incarcerated. Shame on us if we’re not preparing people to come out into society.

Andrew Hundley
Executive Director of the Louisiana Parole Project

Oversight Hearing on Clemency and the Office of the Pardon Attorney

Senior Fellow William “Bill” Underwood testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the need for Congress to provide more opportunities for second chances for people serving extreme sentences.


Second Look at Injustice: Growing Momentum for Reform

This webinar discusses the latest research and advocacy around second look reforms. Panelists highlight California’s prosecutor-initiated sentencing reviews, DC’s Second Look Amendment Act—impacting up to 29% of its imprisoned population, and the campaign for an Elder Parole bill in New York State.

Click here to watch.


Sentencing Reform

Prison sentences are longer and imprison more people in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Modern use of mass incarceration began 50 years ago leading to an unprecedented and expensive prison build up, inadequate investment in social structures, limited improvement in public safety, and the upheaval of families and communities, particularly for Black and brown Americans. Help us spread the word on social media about ending mass incarceration to advance racial justice and to create a criminal legal system rooted in justice.

  • Over half

    Over half of the U.S. prison population is serving a sentence of 10 years or longer.

  • 1 in 7

    people in U.S. prisons are serving a life sentence.

  • 475%

    The number of imprisoned women increased from 26,000 in 1980 to 153,000 in 2020—a 475% increase.

Get involved

The COVID-19 Safer Detention Act and the First Step Implementation Act

Two bipartisan bills have the potential to reduce mass incarceration, reunite families, and better guarantee the health and safety of the federally incarcerated population.

Take action