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Breaking the Addiction to Incarceration: Weekly Highlights (03/22/2013)

Alex Stamm,
ACLU Center for Justice
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March 22, 2013

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 has failed on every count: public safety, fairness and cost-effectiveness. Across the country, the criminal justice reform conversation is heating up. Each week, we feature our some of the most exciting and relevant news in overincarceration discourse that we’ve spotted from the previous week. Check back weekly for our top picks.

More updates on good news from state legislatures and even the U.S. Congress this week:

  • Lots of bills to reduce prison populations moving through state legislatures. You can find a rundown here.
  • At the federal level, Sens. Leahy and Paul introduced a bill that would allow judges to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum for any federal offense. The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 would give judges greater flexibility; they would not be forced to administer needlessly long sentences for certain offenders. Families Against Mandatory Minimums has an excellent primer on the bill, as well as a helpful FAQ sheet.

There was a lot of attention given to a couple of major criminal justice issues in the past week: indigent defense and New York’s stop-and-frisk practices.

And check out the ACLU’s year-long story project, which launched this week: “The Sad State of Indigent Defense Fifty Years After Gideon v. Wainwright

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