Sentencing Disparity

The Bittersweet Victory of Patricia Spottedcrow’s Release

The Bittersweet Victory of Patricia Spottedcrow’s Release

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 2:16pm

Patricia Spottedcrow of Oklahoma made headlines in 2010 when she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for her first criminal offense: the sale of a $31 bag of marijuana to an undercover informant. The senseless severity of her sentence caught the…

ACLU LENS: Supreme Court Rules Fairer Sentences Apply to More Drug Cases

ACLU LENS: Supreme Court Rules Fairer Sentences Apply to More Drug Cases

By Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 3:28pm

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA), which reduced the disparity in federal sentencing between crack and powder cocaine, applies to people whose offenses pre-date the law but who were sentenced after its passage.…

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:48pm

As states begin to realize that they can reduce their prison populations safely, the pace of reform has begun to pick up a bit this year. State legislative sessions are coming to a close, which makes it a good time to review the actions lawmakers…

Chance at Freedom: Retroactive Crack Sentence Reductions For Up to 12,000 May Begin Today

Chance at Freedom: Retroactive Crack Sentence Reductions For Up to 12,000 May Begin Today

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:11pm

Today, Hamedah Hasan can finally apply for her freedom.

Hamedah has been locked up for 18 years serving a prison sentence she never deserved.

When she was 21 years old, she and her two daughters escaped an abusive relationship …

Congress Stood Up for Fairer Sentencing. The Supreme Court Should Too.

By Emma Andersson, Criminal Law Reform Project at 3:17pm

Today we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in two Supreme Court cases that deal with the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA), which reduced the disparity between federal mandatory minimum sentences for crack versus powder cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1.…

Obama's Commutation: A Prelude to Systemic Reform?

By Emma Andersson, Criminal Law Reform Project at 3:21pm

There are hundreds of thousands of Americans serving outrageously long prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses as a result of our nation’s widely discredited and inhumane "war on drugs." On Tuesday night, President Obama…

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer Gets It (Half) Right

By Dan Zeidman, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:57pm

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has a lot to say on our country’s criminal system – some good, some bad.

That was clear from a speech he made Tuesday to the American Lawyer/National Law Journal Summit that discussed…

A Path Forward to Criminal Justice Policy that Keeps us Safe and Reflects our Values

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 3:48pm

Today, there are over 2.3 million men and women in prisons throughout the United States. We incarcerate more of our population than any country in the world, and the increased incarceration of offenders with drug offenses represents the most significant…

A Call for Fairness

A Call for Fairness

By Dan Zeidman, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:03pm

June 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war that has cost roughly a trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United…

Statistics image