The Sentencing Project has issued a new report on the state of criminal justice reform across the country. The report, The State of Sentencing 2015, was written by Nicole D. Porter, Director of Advocacy Sentencing. The findings include:
New Sentencing Laws: At least 12 states authorized new sentencing laws or modified policy practices to address prison population growth. Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty; Connecticut reduced criminal penalties for certain drug offenses; and Oklahoma’s governor directed parole officials to establish a sentence reduction policy for persons sentenced to certain mandatory penalties.
Mandatory sentencing reform: Maryland, Oklahoma and North Dakota authorized sentencing judges to depart from mandatory minimums in certain circumstances. These reforms generally allow a departure from statutory mandatory minimums based on the nature of the crime, mitigating circumstances, defendant’s character, and the defendant’s chances of successful rehabilitation.
Probation and parole: Lawmakers in at least six states – Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Montana, Texas, and Utah – modified policies relating to community supervision. Included among the law changes is statutory guidance designed to reduce returns to prison for technical probation and parole violators.
Collateral consequences: Officials in at least 14 states authorized changes in policy and practice to the collateral impacts of a conviction. Notably, officials in California restored voting rights to 60,000 people on probation supervision and Kentucky reinstated voting rights to an estimated 100,000 citizens. Also, Alabama lawmakers eliminated the federal lifetime ban on food and cash assistance for persons with felony drug convictions, while Texas officials modified the ban on food assistance. Other reforms included authorizing fair chance hiring policies – “Ban the Box” -- for persons with criminal records in at least five states. offenses; and Oklahoma’s governor directed parole officials to establish a sentence reduction policy for persons sentenced to certain mandatory penalties.
To read the full report CLICK HERE