Writing in Truthout, The Sentencing Project’s Director of Advocacy Nicole Porter explains how a recent Supreme Court ruling highlights the complicated nature of sentencing laws that result in lengthy prison terms. In Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court found a provision of a federal “three strikes” law to be unconstitutional.
For stakeholders interested in addressing mass incarceration, there are opportunities to revisit similar policies at the state level. Lawmakers can repeal sentencing enhancement laws and allow judges to depart from statutory minimums. Nevada, for example, granted discretion to judges to impose shortened enhanced sentences for eligible offenses. Prior to the law change, a person convicted of a felony committed on school property would face the statutory punishment for the charged conduct, plus a sentence enhancement equal to the statutory punishment. At the federal level, to implement the court’s ruling, Congress can address sentencing enhancements that lengthen statutory punishments.
Read the full commentary on Truthout.