Sentencing Policy

News Article The Associated Press March 23, 2006

Drug-Free School Zone Laws Questioned

In reaction to the crack epidemic of the 1980s, laws creating drug-free zones around schools spread nationwide. Now, hard questions are being raised — by legislators, activists, even law enforcement officials — about the fairness and effectiveness of those laws.

In New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington state, bills have been proposed to sharply reduce the size of the zones. A former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts reviewed hundreds of drug-free-zone cases, and found that less than 1 percent involved drug sales to youths. Read more »

JS Publication January 31, 2006

Treatment Instead of Prisons: A Roadmap for Sentencing and Correctional Policy in Wisconsin

A broad-based movement is building to overhaul Wisconsin's sentencing practices. The Treatment Instead of Prison (TIP) campaign — a dynamic statewide coalition of 24 organizations — has launched a coordinated effort to call attention to the many benefits of using substance abuse treatment as an alternative to incarceration for people charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses.

Many of Wisconsin's leading policymakers indicate they are ready to consider new approaches. Read more »

News Article

Ohio combines sentencing reform and community corrections to rein in prison budget

Ohio provides a remarkable example of policy reforms and investments in community-based alternative programs can yield correctional cost savings. State policymakers have managed to reduce the state’s prison population by more than 5,000, allowing closure of two prisons, and saving taxpayers more than $65 million a year. Read more »

News Article The Montgomery Advertiser November 1, 2005

Groups say prison not addicts' place (AL)

Efforts to divert drug addicts and other nonviolent criminals away from state prisons are gaining momentum months before Alabama's 2006 legislative session.

On Monday, the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates the legalization of medical marijuana and policy changes in the way America deals with drug addicts, released "Alabama Prison Crisis: A Justice Strategies Policy Report." "Substance abuse is driving the prison crisis," said Kevin Pranis, an analyst with Justice Strategies, the New York-based nonprofit group commissioned to do the report. Read more »

JS Publication October 31, 2005

Alabama Prison Crisis

Justice Strategies researchers find that nonviolent drug offenses drive explosive prison population growth

Alabama's prisons are dangerously overcrowded and disastrously under-funded. Facilities designed for 13,500 prisoners hold more than 27,000, and Alabama's largest prisons are crammed to three times their design capacity. State corrections officials struggle daily to manage a system characterized by the nation's lowest per-prisoner expenditures and highest ratio of prisoners to guards, along with a death rate that far exceeds the norm. Read more »

JS Publication September 13, 2005

Unfinished Business: How Sentencing Guidelines Reform Can Further Efforts to Reduce Substance Abuse in Maryland

Despite recent efforts in Maryland to expand access to treatment for addicts caught up in the criminal justice system, the bulk of the state resources available for addressing the problem remain "locked up" in the prison system. The nearly 5,000 drug prisoners incarcerated in Maryland (1 in 5 state prisoners) represent a $100 million-a-year "investment" in a failed approach to combating addiction.

A Justice Strategies analysis of sentencing patterns for drug offenses determined that the state's drug sentencing guidelines:

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JS Publication October 1, 2004

From Abu Ghraib to America

Since the infamous photos of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq first came to light, much has been said about the role that the U.S. military and CIA have played in connection with the human rights violations. But reports of similar abuse in the United States are all too common, which suggests that America's dehumanizing prison culture has now been exported elsewhere in the world. Read more »

JS Publication June 30, 2004

Did Oregon's Measure 11 work? Other States Achieve Greater Crime Reductions at Lower Cost

Supporters of Ballot Measure 11 claim that the reform has served as a cost-effective crime control strategy. Yet a comparison of crime patterns and incarceration rates in Oregon with patterns in other states shows that remarkable reductions in crime rates have occurred elsewhere without recourse to a huge and costly expansion of prison capacity. Read more »

News Article May 12, 2004

Arizona lawmakers join call for sentencing reform

Respected Republican Rep. Bill Konopnicki (R – Stafford) and Sen. Carolyn Allen (R – Scottsdale) welcomed the release of a report blaming the growth in incarceration on Arizona’s rigid mandatory sentencing laws, and they pledged to support legislation establishing a sentencing commission to study the matter. Read more »

JS Publication May 11, 2004

Arizona Prison Crisis: A Call for Smart On Crime Solutions

With the ninth highest rate of incarceration in the nation, Arizona has become the incarceration capital of the western United States. The rate of prison population growth in 2002 was twice the regional average and the state incarcerates women, Latinos and African Americans at higher rates than its neighbors. Justice Strategies analysts found that mandatory sentencing laws are fueling overcrowding in the state by filling prisons with substance abusers.

Mandatory sentencing laws fuel overcrowding, fill prisons with substance abusers Read more »

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