Sentencing Policy

Relating to sentencing policy.

  • Capital Punishment, 2014-2015 [PDF]
    Bureau of Justice Statistics, May, 2017
    “Two states accounted for 80% of the executions [in 2016]: Georgia executed nine inmates, and Texas executed seven.”
  • When did prisons become acceptable mental healthcare facilities? [PDF]
    Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project, May, 2017
    “While the overall state prison population has decreased dramatically, the number of prisoners with mental illness continues to climb and is expected grow in the years ahead.”
  • Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, [PDF]
    The Sentencing Project, May, 2017
    “Nearly half (48.3%) of life and virtual life-sentenced individuals are African American, equal to one in five black prisoners overall. As of 2016, 1 in every 9 people in prison was serving a life sentence.”
  • Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States
    National Registry of Exonerations, University of Michigan Law School, March, 2017
    “Innocent black murder suspects, especially those who are falsely convicted...are additional victims of murders committed by others. Those who have been exonerated spent on average more than 14 years in prison before they were released.”
  • Raising The Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System, [PDF]
    Justice Policy Institute, March, 2017
    “Over the past ten years, half of the states that had previously excluded all 16- and/or 17-year-olds from juvenile court based solely on their age have changed their laws.”
  • Ohio's Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline: 131st General Assembly (2015-2016), [PDF]
    ACLU of Ohio, March, 2017
    “These laws often use incarceration to address public health issues like addiction, mental health, and poverty, which only serves to exacerbate those problems.”
    (The ACLU of Ohio reviewed all 1,004 bills introduced during the 2015-2016 legislative session and found nearly one in 10 included language to lock more people up longer.)
  • Exonerations in 2016: The National Registry of Exonerations, [PDF]
    The National Registry of Exonerations, University of Michigan Law School, March, 2017
    “A record 94 exonerations in 2016 were cases in which no crime actually occurred.”
  • Sentencing Outcomes in U.S. District Courts: Can Offenders' Educational Attainment Guard Against Prevalent Criminal Stereotypes?, [PDF]
    Travis W. Franklin, Sam Houston State University, February, 2017
    “[C]ourt actors may be less concerned (or not at all concerned) with factors typically linked to perceptions of dangerousness (e.g., race, ethnicity, age, sex, detention status) when dealing with offenders of higher educational status.”
  • Delaying a Second Chance: The Declining Prospects for Parole on Life Sentences, [PDF]
    The Sentencing Project, January, 2017
    “By placing upward pressure on prison sentences for people with less serious convictions, excessive prison terms for lifers have contributed to a major cause of mass incarceration.”
  • How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated? [PDF]
    Brennan Center for Justice, December, 2016
    “Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. prison population — 576,000 people — are behind bars with no compelling public safety reason.”
  • How Tough on Crime Became Tough on Kids: Prosecuting Teenage Drug Charges in Adult Courts, [PDF]
    The Sentencing Project, December, 2016
    “The ability of states to send teenagers into the adult system on nonviolent offenses, a relic of the war on drugs, threatens the futures of those teenagers who are arrested on drug charges, regardless of whether or not they are convicted.”
  • Righting Wrongs: The Five-Year Groundswell of State Bans on Life Without Parole For Children, [PDF]
    The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, September, 2016
    “In just five years—from 2011 to 2016—the number of states that ban death-in-prison sentences for children has more than tripled.”
  • (New) Evaluating the Role of Race in Criminal Justice Adjudications in Delaware [PDF]
    John M. MacDonald and Ellen A. Donnelly, University of Pennsylvania, September, 2016
    “African American-White disparities in incarceration sentences are largely explained by differences in most serious of arrest charge, type of arrest charge, detention between arrest and final disposition, and county location.”
  • Defining Violence: Reducing Incarceration and Rethinking America's Approach to Violence,
    Justice Policy Institute, August, 2016
    “[This report] explores how something is defined as a violent or nonviolent crime, how that classification affects how the justice system treats a person, and how all that relates to the use of incarceration.”
  • Missouri Policy Shortens Probation and Parole Terms, Protects Public Safety
    The Pew Charitable Trusts, August, 2016
    “Three years of data show that the earned compliance credit policy significantly reduced the state’s supervised population without jeopardizing public safety.”
  • Profit-Driven Prosecution and the Competitive Bidding Process
    J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, August, 2016
    “This Article sheds light on the problems caused by introducing an overtly economic calculation (how cheaply and how profitably the prosecutorial function may be fulfilled) into the criminal adjudicative process.”
  • Report to the Congress: Career Offender Sentencing Enhancements,
    United States Sentencing Commission, August, 2016
    “The career offender directive should be amended to differentiate between career offenders with different types of criminal records, and is best focused on those offenders who have committed at least one 'crime of violence.'”
  • Juvenile Life Without Parole in Wayne County: Time to Join the National Consensus, [PDF]
    Fair Punishment Project, July, 2016
    “Wayne County makes up only 18% of the state’s population, yet it accounts for at least 40% of the individuals serving these [juvenile life without parole] sentences in Michigan.”
  • The Downstream Consequences of Misdemeanor Pretrial Detention
    University of Pennsylvania Law School, July, 2016
    “We find that detained defendants are 25% more likely than similarly situated releasees to plead guilty, 43% more likely to be sentenced to jail, and receive jail sentences that are more than twice as long on average.”
  • America's Top Five Deadliest Prosecutors: How Overzealous Personalities Drive the Death Penalty,
    The Fair Punishment Project, June, 2016
    “There are more than 3,100 counties, 2,400 head prosecutors, and thousands of line prosecutors in America — yet only a tiny handful of prosecutors are responsible for a vastly disproportionate number of death sentences.”
  • Justice by Geography: Do politics influence the prosecution of youth as adults?,
    Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, June, 2016
    “Granting prosecutors the sole discretion to determine whether a youth is tried in adult court contributes to a system of extreme disparities.”
  • The Prosecution of Youth as Adults: A county-level analysis of prosecutorial direct file in California and its disparate impact on youth of color,
    Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, W. Haywood Burn's Institute, National Center for Youth Law, June, 2016
    “This report...presents county rates of direct file compared to the youth population and rates of youth arrests, and highlights racial and ethnic disparities.”
  • Stemming The Rising Tide: Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Youth Incarceration & Strategies for Change, [PDF]
    W. Haywood Burns Institute, May, 2016
    “Youth are being incarcerated for longer periods of time, with Black and Latino youth having the longest stays out of home.”
  • Distortion of Justice: How the Inability to Pay Bail Affects Case Outcomes,
    University of Pennsylvania Law School, May, 2016
    “While previous research has shown correlations between pretrial detention and unfavorable case outcomes, this paper is the first to use a quasi-experimental research design to show that the relationship is causal.”
  • Assessing the Impact of South Dakota's Sentencing Reforms
    Urban Institute, May, 2016
    “South Dakota’s presumptive probation policy and felony reclassifications played a significant role in averting South Dakota’s prison population growth.”
  • Justice in Review: New Trends in State Sentencing and Corrections 2014-2015,
    Vera Institute of Justice, May, 2016
    “In 2014 and 2015, 46 states enacted at least 201 bills, executive orders and ballot initiatives to reform at least one aspect of their sentencing and corrections systems.”
  • Roadblocks to Reform: District Attorneys, Elections, and the Criminal Justice System Status Quo,
    ACLU of Oregon, April, 2016
    “DAs are arguably the most powerful people in the criminal justice system, but voters don’t seem to know who DAs are or all that they do[.]”
  • By the Numbers: Parole Release and Revocation Across 50 States,
    Robina Institute, April, 2016
    “The Data Profiles in this report are designed to provide a statistical snapshot of the relationships and movements between prison and parole supervision populations in each state.”
  • Louisiana Death-Sentenced Cases and Their Reversals, 1976-2015
    The Journal of Race, Gender, and Poverty, April, 2016
    “Not only are these reversal rates extremely high, but the racial discrepancies are shocking as well.”
  • Prosecutorial Oversight: A National Dialogue in the Wake of Connick v. Thompson,
    Innocence Project, March, 2016
    “There are almost no adequate systems in place to keep prosecutorial error and misconduct in check and, in fact, prosecutors are rarely held accountable even for intentional misconduct.”
  • How Has Proposition 47 Affected California's Jail Population
    Public Policy Institute of California, March, 2016
    “Taken together, we find significant changes in the level and composition of those incarcerated in jails following the passage of Prop 47.”
  • Roadblock to Economic Independence: How Driver's License Suspension Policies in Indiana Impede Self-Sufficiency, Burden State Government...,
    Health and Human Rights Clinic, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, February, 2016
    “Beside the cost to individuals, driver’s license suspensions significantly impact employers, government resources, and public safety.”
  • The Use of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b)
    United States Sentencing Commission, February, 2016
    “This report examines sentence reductions for offenders who cooperate with the government in its efforts to investigate or prosecute others.”
  • The Effects of Changing State Theft Penalties
    The Pew Charitable Trusts, February, 2016
    “The Pew Charitable Trusts examined crime trends in the 23 states that raised their felony theft thresholds between 2001 and 2011[.]”
  • The State of Sentencing 2015 Developments in Policy and Practice,
    The Sentencing Project, February, 2016
    “The policy reforms outlined in this document highlight changes in sentencing, community supervision, collateral consequences, and juvenile justice policies.”
  • National Survey Key Findings - Federal Sentencing & Prisons
    The Pew Charitable Trusts, February, 2016
    “Voters are ready and willing to reform the criminal justice system in ways that reduce the size and cost of the federal prison system, while improving outcomes.”
  • Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives: Final Recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections,
    Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, January, 2016
    “Sentencing reform and other policy changes will reduce our reliance on prison and cut costs as we reconsider which people truly need to be behind bars and for how long.”
  • Probation in California
    Public Policy Institute of California, December, 2015
    “Probation is the most widely used form of correctional supervision in California.”
  • Charging the Poor: Criminal Justice Debt & Modern-Day Debtors' Prisons,
    Texas A&M University - School of Law, December, 2015
    “[M]y Article proposes eliminating egregious sanctions, providing courts flexibility to base fines on earning levels, and establishing procedures to enforce restrictions against incarcerating those who are truly unable to pay their criminal justice debt.”
  • Sentencing in California: Moving Toward a Smarter, More Cost-Effective Approach,
    California Budget & Policy Center, December, 2015
    “Despite these positive steps, California’s sentencing laws continue to overly rely on incarceration as the consequence for committing a felony or a misdemeanor, rather than promoting community-based interventions.”
  • Who Gets Time for Federal Drug Offenses? Data Trends and Opportunities for Reform,
    Urban Institute, November, 2015
    (This brief finds that many people in federal prison for drug crimes have minimal or no criminal histories, and most were not convicted of violent or leading roles.)
  • Prison Time Surges for Federal Inmates
    The Pew Charitable Trusts Public Safety Performance Project, November, 2015
    “The average length of time served by federal inmates more than doubled from 1988 to 2012, rising from 17.9 to 37.5 months.”
  • Changing Gears: California's Shift to Smart Justice, [PDF]
    ACLU of California, November, 2015
    “By June 2015, almost 160,000 petitions had been filed to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor.”
  • Federal Sentencing Disparity: 2005-2012,
    Bureau of Justice Statistics, October, 2015
    “Federal Sentencing Disparity, 2005-2012, examines patterns of federal sentencing disparity among white and black offenders, by sentence received, and looks at judicial variation in sentencing since Booker vs. United States, regardless of race.”
  • Proposition 47 Progress Report: Year One Implementation, [PDF]
    Stanford Law School Stanford Justice Advocacy Project, October, 2015
    “Since the enactment of Proposition 47 on November 14, 2014, the number of people incarcerated in California’s prisons and jails has decreased by approximately 13,000 inmates, helping alleviate crowding conditions in those institutions.”
  • Adult Sex Offender Management
    Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, July, 2015
    “This brief has focused on the effectiveness of a number of prominent sex offender management strategies, including specialized supervision, COSA, polygraph, GPS, civil commitment, SORN, and residence restrictions.”
  • Juvenile Court Statistics 2013
    National Center for Juvenile Justice, July, 2015
    “Juvenile Court Statistics 2013 describes delinquency cases handled between 1985 and 2013 and petitioned status offense cases handled between 1995 and 2013 by U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction.”
  • The State of Sentencing 2014: Developments in Policy and Practice, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, February, 2015
    “Sentencing: At least 16 states and the District of Columbia authorized legislation to address sentencing policy, including statutory penalties that limit lengths of confinement.”
  • Federal Justice Statistics, 2012 - Statistical Tables
    Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, 2015
    “Tables and text describe arrests and investigations by law enforcement agency and growth rates by type of offense and federal judicial district.”
  • The Prosecution of Youth As Adults in California: A 2015 Update, [PDF]
    Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, National Center for Youth Law, W. Haywood Burns Institute, 2015
    “The race and location of youth—rather than the seriousness of the offense—impacted the likelihood they were direct filed in adult criminal court and subjected to the adult system.”
  • Defendant Remorse, Need for Affect, and Juror Sentencing Decisions [Website]
    Emily Corwin, Louisiana State Univeristy; Professor Robert Cramer, Sam Houston State University; Desiree Griffin, Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute; Professor Stanley Brodsky, University of Alabama, 2015
    “Incongruent verbal and nonverbal behavior, as well as mock juror willingness to approach emotional situations (i.e., high need for affect resulted in more lenient sentences for defendants.”
  • Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission: 2014 Annual Report, [PDF]
    Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, December, 2014
    “During FY2014, judges continued to agree with the sentencing guidelines recommendations in approximately 78% of the cases.”
  • Rehabilitating Corrections in California: The Health Impacts of Proposition 47,
    Human Impact Partners, September, 2014
    “The key to achieving the full benefits of sentencing reform is funding and implementation of the treatment, prevention, and recovery services called for in the initiative.”
  • Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, September, 2014
    “Studies have shown that whites who associate crime with blacks and Latinos are more likely to support punitive policies - including capital punishment and mandatory minimum sentencing - than whites with weaker racial associations of crime.”
  • Proposition 47: Estimating Local Savings and Jail Population Reductions, [PDF]
    Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, September, 2014
    “Every year, Los Angeles County could save between $99.9 million and $174.8 million, San Diego County between $28.4 million and $49.7 million, and San Joaquin County between $6.8 million and $12.0 million due to the implementation of Proposition 47.”
  • Florida's Aging Prisoner Problem [PDF]
    Florida Tax Watch, September, 2014
    “Between 2000 and 2014, the elderly prison population grew from 5,605 to 21,002, at an average increase of 9.9 percent per year, a rate more than three times higher than the general prison population.”
  • Explaining Dimensions of State-Level Punitiveness in the United States: The Roles of Social, Economic, and Cultural Factors, [PDF]
    Baker Institute of Public Policy, August, 2014
    (For incarceration, citizen engagement and property crime have a statistically significant and negative impact on state punitiveness, while the percent of population that is black has a significant and positive effect.)
  • Recalibrating Justice A Review of 2013 State Sentencing and Corrections Trends, [PDF]
    Vera Institute of Justice, July, 2014
    “In 2013, at least six states authorized the creation or expansion of diversion programs or strengthened the infrastructure support- ing existing programs.”
  • Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States, [PDF]
    The Sentencing Project, July, 2014
    “Studies consistently find that expediting prisoners’ release from prison has no or minimal impact on recidivism rates.”
  • The contagious nature of imprisonment an agent-based model to explain racial disparities in incarceration rates, [PDF]
    The Royal Society, June, 2014
    “Our model suggests that increased sentencing for an individual has negative effects that spread through social networks to affect families and whole communities.”
  • Nation Behind Bars a human rights solution, [PDF]
    Human Rights Watch, May, 2014
    “The momentum for sentencing reform is welcome for all who care about the fair use of government's power to determine what conduct to criminalize and what sanctions to impose on those who break the law.”
  • Mississippi's 2014 Corrections and Criminal Justice Reform [PDF]
    Pew's Public Safety Performance Project, May, 2014
    “...nonviolent offenders and those revoked for probation or parole violations accounted for a large and growing share of Mississippi's prison population.”
  • A New Approach to Reducing Incarceration While Maintaining Low Rates of Crime, [PDF]
    The Hamilton Project, May, 2014
    “What alternative policy options could we pursue in conjunction with scaling back incarceration rates that would reduce the social costs of incarceration while controlling crime?”
  • Female Realignment Report: An Examination of Female Offenders Released from State Prison in the First Year of Public Safety Realignment, [PDF]
    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, May, 2014
    “…data shows that there is very little difference between female offenders and their outcomes following release after completing their State prison term pre- and post-Realignment”
  • Branded for Life: Florida's Prosecution of Children as Adults under its "Direct File" Statute, [PDF]
    Human Rights Watch, April, 2014
    “Florida transfers more children out of the juvenile system and into adult court than any other state. In the last five years alone, more than 12,000 juvenile crime suspects in Florida were transferred to the adult court system.”
  • Criminal Justice Consensus Cost-Benefit Working Group
    Vermont Center for Justice Research, April, 2014
    “The State of Vermont needs to reinvigorate its commitment to supporting evidence-based programming in criminal and juvenile justice.”
  • Reaching too far: How Connecticut's large sentencing enhancement zones miss the mark,
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2014
    “This report shows that the law doesn't work, it cannot possibly work, and that it creates an unfair two-tiered system of justice based on a haphazard distinction between urban and rural areas of the state.”
  • Adventures in Risk: Predicting Violent and Sexual Recidivism in Sentencing Law,
    Arizona State Law Journal, March, 2014
    “Whatever merit actuarial assessments may have for a variety of criminal justice decisions (such as bail, probation, and parole), they are far too problematic for use in sentencing matters.”
  • Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants Who are Sentenced to Death [PDF]
    University of Michigan Law School, March, 2014
    “The rate of exonerations among death sentences in the United States is far higher than for any other category of criminal convictions.”
  • Victim Gender and the Death Penalty [PDF]
    Cornell Law School, March, 2014
    “...our analyses suggest that victim gender continues to influence capital sentencing decisions.”
  • Parolable Lifers in Michigan: Paying the price of unchecked discretion, [PDF]
    Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending, February, 2014
    “With the average annual cost of incarcerating an aging prisoner at roughly $40,000, each decision to continue a lifer for five years costs taxpayers about $200,000. Research demonstrates that lifers have by far the lowest re-offense rates of all parolees”
  • Michigan's Parolable Lifers: The Cost of a Broken Process, [PDF]
    Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending, February, 2014
    “When most of today's parole-eligible lifers were sentenced, it was by judges who believed both a life sentence and a 40-year minimum term meant release within 16 years.”
  • Playbook for Change? States Reconsider Mandatory Sentences, [PDF]
    Vera Institute of Justice, February, 2014
    “...there is little evidence that longer sentences have more than a marginal effect in reducing recidivism-a key performance indicator of a state's correctional system. More than four out of 10 adult offenders still return to prison within three years...”
  • The New Normal? Prosecutorial Charging in California After Public Safety Realignment, [PDF]
    Stanford Criminal Justice Center, January, 2014
    “As for specific substantive conclusions, the undramatic one is that most charging or recommendation preferences remain consistent with traditional severity factors and do not manifest major alterations in light of AB 109.”
  • Assessing Judicial Sentencing Preferences After Public Safety Realignment: A Survey of California Judges, [PDF]
    Stanford Criminal Justice Center, January, 2014
    “Our study finds that 57% of judges preferred to give an 1170(h) sentence over a felony probation sentence, except when the hypothetical contains information about the offender's substance abuse or mental illness.”
  • A Living Death Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses, [PDF]
    ACLU, November, 2013
    “About 79 percent of the 3,278 prisoners serving life without parole were sentenced to die in prison for nonviolent drug crimes.”
  • Smart on Sentencing, Smart on Crime: An Argument for Reforming Louisiana's Determinate Sentencing Laws, [PDF]
    Reason Foundation, Pelican Institute for Public Policy, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Right on Crime, October, 2013
    “Today, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, with 868 of every 100,000 of its citizens in prison.”
  • Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, September, 2013
    “As of 2012, there were 159,520 people serving life sentences, an 11.8% rise since 2008.”
  • Progress Report: Three Strikes Reform (Proposition 36) [PDF]
    Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, September, 2013
    “Fewer than 2% of the prisoners released under Prop 36 have been charged with new crimes, according to state and county records. The average recidivism rate over a similar period of time for non-Prop 36 inmates leaving California prisons is 16%.”
  • Preliminary Crack Retroactivity Data Report Fair Sentencing Act, [PDF]
    U.S. Sentencing Commission, July, 2013
    “After federal sentencing guideline changes on crack cocaine were made retroactive, more than 7,300 defendants got on average a 29-month reduction in their sentences.”
  • Gideon at 50: Three Reforms to Revive the Right to Counsel, [PDF]
    Brennan Center for Justice, April, 2013
    “Recommendations include: legalizing some petty offenses or reclassifying them into non-jailable civil infractions; increase funding for public defense; Increase effectiveness by funding regular trainings for attorneys and adding social workers.”
  • Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment, [PDF]
    Experts from a coalition of organizations including The Sentencing Project, JFA Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Justice Strategies., April, 2013
    “While JRI has played a significant role in softening the ground and moving the dial on mass incarceration reform, it runs the danger of institutionalizing mass incarceration at current levels.”
  • Crime, Cost, and Consequences: Is it Time to Get Smart on Crime?, [PDF]
    MassInc, Community Resources for Justice, March, 2013
    “If Massachusetts continues on the current course, the analysis contained in this report suggests the state will spend more than $2 billion over the next decade on corrections policies that produce limited public safety benefit.”
  • Lifer Parole Recidivism Report [PDF]
    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, January, 2013
    “Lifer parolees receive fewer new convictions within three years of being released to parole (4.8 vs. 51.5%, respectively). They also have a markedly lower return to prison recidivism rate than non‐lifer parolees (13.3 vs. 65.1%, respectively).”
  • Tinkering with Life A Look at the Inappropriateness of of Life Without Parole as an Alternative to the Death Penalty, [PDF]
    The Sentencing Project, January, 2013
    “LWOP is often touted as the humane alternative to the death penalty, yet many of the problematic aspects of the death penalty are also applicable to this sentence.”
  • The State of Sentencing 2012: Developments in Policy and Practice, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, January, 2013
    “State lawmakers in at least 24 states adopted 41 criminal justice policies that in 2012 may contribute to downscaling prison populations and eliminating barriers to reentry while promoting effective approaches to public safety.”
  • Report to the Governor - 2012 [PDF]
    Oregon Commission on Public Safety, December, 2012
    “Oregon's imprisonment rate has grown at over three times the rate of the national average in the last decade. During that same period, prison admissions have grown to include increasing percentages of nonviolent offenders.”
  • Report on the Continuing Impact of United States v. Booker on Federal Sentences, [Website]
    United States Sentencing Commission, December, 2012
    “This report assesses the continuing impact on the federal sentencing system of the Supreme Court's 2005 opinion in United States v. Booker, which rendered the sentencing guidelines advisory.”
  • The Anatomy of Discretion: An Analysis of Prosecutorial Decision Making, [PDF]
    Vera Institute of Justice, December, 2012
    “While prosecutorial discretion is generally seen as very broad and unconstrained, prosecutors often rely on a fairly limited array of legal and quasi-legal factors to make decisions, and are further constrained by several contextual factors.”
  • Report of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians [PDF]
    Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians, November, 2012
    “The data shows that most individuals sentenced to prison are drug and property offenders, and these offenders are also staying behind bars for longer periods of time. Drug and property offenders represent almost 60 percent of all admissions.”
  • Restoration of Rights Project [Website]
    National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, October, 2012
    “54 jurisdictional profiles include provisions on loss and restoration of civil rights and firearms privileges, legal mechanisms for overcoming or mitigating collateral consequences, and provisions addressing non-discrimination in employment and licensing.”
  • 2012 Party Platforms on Criminal Justice Policy [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, September, 2012
    “Though the United States remains the world's leader in incarceration [...], the recently approved Democratic and Republican party platforms indicate ways to make progress on criminal justice reform while increasing public safety.”
  • Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009 [PDF]
    Bureau of Justice Statistics, August, 2012
    “During 2009, publicly funded crime labs began and ended the year with a total backlog of more than one million requests for forensic services.”
  • Three Strikes: The Wrong Way to Justice, [PDF]
    Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School, June, 2012
    “By properly limiting the applicability of the habitual offender provisions, Massachusetts will be able to reinvest in its people through education, treatment, training, and community development programs.”
  • Survey of Sentencing Practices FY 2011 [PDF]
    Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, May, 2012
    “For state prison sentences, the median minimum state prison sentence was 36.0 months and the median maximum state prison sentence was 48.0 months.”
  • Reallocating Justice Resources A Review of 2011 State Sentencing Trends, [PDF]
    Vera Institute of Justice, March, 2012
    “Early in the current recession, many states focused only on achieving quick cost savings. Now state lawmakers are considering multiple, related policy changes that will have long-term fiscal impacts.”
  • The State of Sentencing 2011 [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, February, 2012
    “During 2011, state legislatures in at least 29 states adopted 55 criminal justice policies that may contribute to continued population reductions and address the collateral consequences associated with felony convictions.”
  • Report to Congress Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System, [PDF]
    United States Sentencing Commission, October, 2011
    “[C]ertain mandatory minimum provisions apply too broadly, are set too high, or both, to warrant the prescribed minimum penalty for the full range of offenders who could be prosecuted under the particular criminal statute.”
  • Annual Report to the United States Sentencing Commission
    United States Department of Justice, July, 2011
    “In the last 50 years,the United States experienced an extraordinary increase, followed by an equally extraordinary decrease, in the number of Americans victimized by violent crime.”
  • Sentencing Reform Amid Mass Incarceration - Guarded Optimism, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, May, 2011
    “A number of state have scaled back mandatory sentencing policies...”
  • The Lives of Juvenile Lifers: Findings from a National Survey, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, March, 2011
    “The proportion of African Americans serving JLWOP sentences for the killing of a white person (43.4%) is nearly twice the rate at which African American juveniles are arrested for taking a white person's life (23.2%).”
  • The State of Sentencing 2010 Developments in Policy and Practice, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, February, 2011
    “During 2010, state legislatures in at least 23 states and the District of Columbia adopted 35 [...] policies that may contribute to reductions in the prison population and eliminate barriers to reentry while promoting effective approaches to public safety”
  • Turning the Corner Opportunities for Effective Sentencing and Correctional Practices in Arizona, [PDF]
    Justice Strategies, January, 2011
    “Arizona policymakers can restore judicial discretion to sentence people to more effective, less costly correctional supervision and treatment options in lieu of prison in cases where such measures would clearly better serve both justice and public safety.”
  • The Chicago Lawyers' Committee's Review of Alternatives for Non- Violent Offenders, [PDF]
    Chicago Lawyers' Committee, 2011
    “This article first addresses specific reforms that have been implemented nationwide relating to non-violent offenders, highlights examples of states that have implemented more aggressive aspects of such reforms, and discusses Illinois' policies.”
  • California Sentencing Institute
    Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, November, 2010
    “comprehensive analysis of sentencing policies and practices in all of California's 58 counties.”
    (Contains detailed county-level statistics)
  • Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions,
    The Center for HIV Law and Policy, November, 2010
    “Thirty-two states and two U.S. territories have HIV-specific criminal statutes and thirty-six states have reported proceedings in which HIV-positive people have been arrested and/or prosecuted for consensual sex, biting, and spitting.”
  • (New) Drawing Blood from Stones: Legal Debt and Social Inequality in the Contemporary United States, [PDF]
    Alexes Harris, Heather Evans, and Katherine Beckett, University of Washington, May, 2010
    “[F]indings suggest that monetary sanctions create long-term legal debt and significantly extend punishment’s effects over time.”
  • The State of Sentencing 2009 Developments in Policy and Practice, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, January, 2010
    “During 2009 state legislatures in at least 19 states enacted policies that hold the potential to reduce prison populations and/or promote more effective approaches to public safety.”
  • Life Without Parole A Reconsideration, [PDF]
    Criminal Justice Policy Coalition and the Norfolk Lifers Group, 2010
    “Everyone serving a Life Without Parole sentence in MA, after 25 years should be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate both a rehabilitated character and a low public safety risk through access to a parole hearing and, where appropriate, parole.”
  • Sexual Offender Laws and Prevention of Sexual Violence or Recidivism
    American Journal of Public Health, 2010
    (Evidence on the effectiveness of sex offender laws suggests that they may not prevent recidivism or sexual violence and result in more harm than good.)
  • No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America
    Sentencing Project, July, 2009
    “A record 140,610 individuals are now serving life sentences in state and federal prisons, 6,807 of whom were juveniles at the time of the crime.”
  • Sex Offender Registration and Notification Limited Effects in New Jersey,
    National Institute of Justice, April, 2009
    “Convicted offenders and their offense types in this study were similar before and after Megan’s Law was passed.”
  • The State of Sentencing 2008 Developments in Policy and Practice, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, February, 2009
    “A nationwide budget crisis coupled with widespread prison overcrowding has led many states to address critical challenges in the areas such as sentencing, drug policy, parole revocation, racial justice, disenfranchisement, juvenile justice, and education.”
  • Reaching too far, coming up short: How large sentencing enhancement zones miss the mark,
    Prison Policy Initiative, January, 2009
    “Massachusetts cannot afford to preserve a law that fails to protect children while draining the state coffers and incarcerating Latinos and Blacks at a rate 26 to 30 times as frequently as Whites.”
  • The Geography of Punishment: How Huge Sentencing Enhancement Zones Harm Communities, Fail to Protect Children,
    Prison Policy Initiative, July, 2008
    “Our analysis found that less than a third (29%) of White Hampden County residents live in enhancement zones, but that more than half (52%) of Black and Latino residents live in school zones.”
    (Finds zone law fails to move drug crimes away from schools while increasing racial disparities in sentencing.)
  • The State of Sentencing 2007: Developments in Policy and Practice,
    The Sentencing Project, January, 2008
    “Confronted with the high cost of continued prison growth, policymakers in 18 states took steps during 2007 to review the effectiveness of their criminal justice systems or institute reforms to limit recidivism and sentence lengths...”
  • No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US [PDF]
    Human Rights Watch, September, 2007
    “The evidence is overwhelming, as detailed in this report, that these laws cause great harm to the people subject to them. On the other hand, proponents of these laws are not able to point to convincing evidence of public safety gains from them.”
  • Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy [PDF]
    United States Sentencing Commission, May, 2007
    “Federal cocaine sentencing policy... continues to come under almost universal criticism... and inaction in this area is of increasing concern to many, including the Commission.”
  • Changing Direction? State Sentencing Reforms 2004-2006, [PDF]
    The Sentencing Project, March, 2007
    “The report... identifies that the most popular approach for reducing prison crowding -- implemented by 13 states -- was the diversion of low-level drug offenders from prison to drug treatment programs.”
  • Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The Florida Death Penalty Assessment Report, [PDF]
    American Bar Association, September, 2006
    “[R]esearch establishes that many Florida capital jurors do not understand their role and responsibilities when deciding whether to impose a death sentence.”
  • When A Historical Analysis of Life Sentences Imposed in Michigan Since 1900, [PDF]
    Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending, September, 2006
    “The historical record makes it indisputably clear that a life sentence in Michigan did not always mean”
  • Alabama Sentencing Commission 2006 Report [PDF]
    Alabama Sentencing Commission, January, 2006
    “Of Alabama's inmate population, almost 1 out of 3 inmates are sentenced as an habitual offender.”
  • Second Chances  Juveniles serving life without parole in Michigan prisons, [PDF]
    American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, January, 2006
    “The majority (221) of juvenile lifers are minority youth, 211 of whom are African-American. The percentage of African-American juvenile lifers (69%) is greatly disproportionate to the general population in Michigan, which is 15% African-American.”
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences Briefing, [PDF]
    Connecticut General Assembly, December, 2005
    “The annual cost of incarceration associated with mandatory minimum sentences is $201.1 million.”
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence Final Report, [PDF]
    Connecticut General Assembly, December, 2005
    “Mandatory minimum sentencing laws were specifically intended to deter offenders and thereby reduce crime (and curb drug use). There is no direct evidence to suggest that the state's mandatory minimum sentencing laws reduced the crime rate (or drug use).”
  • A Primer: Three Strikes - The Impact After More Than a Decade, [PDF]
    Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) - California's Nonpartisan Fiscal and Policy Advisor, October, 2005
  • Racial Divide: California's 3 Strikes Law,
    Justice Policy Institute, October, 2004
  • No way out Michigan's parole board redefines the meaning of, [PDF]
    Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending, September, 2004
    (When judges imposed a life sentence, they assumed that the prisoner would be parolled in 10-15 years, but in the 1990's the parol board started denying parol, in effect changing the sentence, contributing to overcrowding and increasing costs of prisons.)
  • ABA Justice Kennedy Commission Recommendations [PDF]
    American Bar Association, June, 2004
  • The Meaning of "Life" Long Prison Sentences in Context,
    Sentencing Project, May, 2004
  • Positive Trends in State-Level Sentencing and Corrections Policy [PDF]
    Families Against Mandatory Minimums, November, 2003
    “Texas policymakers introduced parole reforms in 2000. The parole board's approval rate for non-violent offenders rose, parole revocations fell sharply, and prison populations dropped by 7,698 from September 2000 to December 2001.”
  • Mandatory minimum sentencing is unfair, ineffective, and expensive [PDF]
    Common Sense Foundation, April, 2003
    (North Carolina)
  • The Influences of Truth-in-Sentencing Reforms on Changes in States' Sentencing Practices and Prison Population,
    Urban Institute, April, 2002
  • Aging Behind Bars: Three Strikes, Seven Years Later, [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, August, 2001
  • Prisons and Sentencing in Massachusetts Waging a More Effective Fight Against Crime, [PDF]
    MassInc, June, 1999
    “Critics of mandatory minimum drug laws, both state and federal, claim that these draconian penalties are jamming prisons with nonviolent offenders, many of them serving long sentences for a first conviction.”
  • Truth in Sentencing in State Prisons [PDF]
    Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, 1999
    “State sentencing law changes linked to increasing time served in State prisons”
  • Three strikes: 5 years later [PDF]
    Sentencing Project, 1998
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Throwing Away the Key or the Taxpayers Money?,
    RAND Foundation, 1997
  • Three Strikes and You're Out: Estimated Benefits and Costs of California's New Mandatory-Sentencing Law,
    RAND Foundation, 1994

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