Sentencing Reform

Can You Think of a Better Way to Spend $7.2 Billion Than Unnecessarily Locking Up Nonviolent Offenders and Undocumented Immigrants?

Can You Think of a Better Way to Spend $7.2 Billion Than Unnecessarily Locking Up Nonviolent Offenders and Undocumented Immigrants?

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:16am
The Department of Justice spends $7.2 billion a year to incarcerate over 209,000 people in the federal Bureau of Prisons at a cost of over $30,000 per year per person.
Serial and What It Says About America's Criminal Justice System

Serial and What It Says About America's Criminal Justice System

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 3:57pm

Serial, the pop culture podcast phenomenon, isn't just a well-produced and addictive listening experience (though it is both of those things). By questioning the validity of some criminal justice procedures and educating its listeners to ask questions,…

How to Save $24 Billion and Fix Our Broken Justice System

How to Save $24 Billion and Fix Our Broken Justice System

By Meghan Groob, Media Strategist, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:19pm

Here's a hypothetical for you: Someone approaches you on the street and offers you a big stack of cash with no strings attached. Do you take it?

Of course you do.

As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, money matters. And that's…

Martin Sheen from The West Wing: Tell Congress Smarter Sentencing Now!

Finally! One of the West Wing's Biggest Cliffhangers Answered

By Meghan Groob, Media Strategist, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:49am

Years after the West Wing left us hanging, we finally have an answer to one of the show's biggest unanswered questions: Does President Josiah Bartlet support sentencing reform?

Okay, maybe I'm overstating it a bit. The aptly titled episode…

Extreme Sentencing – the "New Normal?"

Extreme Sentencing – the "New Normal?"

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice & Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 1:33pm

It should outrage us that a homeless man will be in prison for the rest of his life because he was the middleman in the sale of $10 worth of marijuana. We can all pretty much agree that the punishment of growing old and dying behind bars for such offenses…

Murphy and Norquist: Congress Must Act to Finish Job on Criminal Justice Reform

Murphy and Norquist: Congress Must Act to Finish Job on Criminal Justice Reform

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Grover G. Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform at 1:26pm

Attorney General Eric Holder's speech to the American Bar Association last Monday, announcing critical reforms to the way the Department of Justice prosecutes and addresses drug crimes, was historic and long overdue. Not in recent memory has this country…

Reducing our Reliance on Incarceration: A Look at Promising State-Level Reforms in 2013

Reducing our Reliance on Incarceration: A Look at Promising State-Level Reforms in 2013

By Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:51pm

Good news for criminal justice reform: the 2013 state legislatures have already introduced a number of impressive bills that build on the growing momentum of the last few years. If 2012 was notable for the number of major reforms that passed (see summaries…

Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:56pm

Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is the highest it’s ever been in U.S. history. And yet, our criminal justice system…

Did President Obama Just Open the Window to Smart Criminal Justice Reform?

Did President Obama Just Open the Window to Smart Criminal Justice Reform?

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:35pm

As everyone who follows criminal justice policy knows, the last 40 years have witnessed an American correctional system dominated by tough-on-crime policies and unrelenting growth. Under this four-decade long regime, criminal justice reform has faced…

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…

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