Criminal Justice System
The United States has the largest prison population of any developed country in the world. A disproportionate number of people in the nation’s prisons and jails are low-income, undereducated, low-level, nonviolent people of color with drug convictions. Our system of mass incarceration is due almost entirely to the War on Drugs and its disproportionate focus on low-income, people of color. The system must be reformed so that it is no longer racially and ethnically discriminatory and incorporates more alternatives to incarceration.
March 30, 2016 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of 61 people who are currently serving time in prison under outdated sentencing laws, bringing his total number of commutations to 248 – more than the last six presidents combined.
March 17, 2016 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
By Peter Wagner
The Federal Communications Commission’s historic October 2015 order expanding its regulations of the prison and jail telephone industry goes into effect today. It’s a little complicated because prisons and jails have different effective dates, and part of the FCC’s order has been stayed by the federal courts. And on March 16, the FCC issued a public notice — which if the companies stay true to form, they are likely to challenge in court — reminding the companies that in-state calls are also to be capped. Barring new rulings from the court, here is what the families of incarcerated people can expect.
January 25, 2016 - Posted by Julie Faust
The Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana that anyone sentenced to life imprisonment for murder as a juvenile must have a chance to argue for parole.
January 12, 2016 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved by voice vote the bipartisan Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 3406), a bill introduced by Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R. Wisc., and Danny Davis, D. Ill., to reauthorize the Second Chance Act.
December 22, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
On December 18, President Obama commuted the sentences of 95 individuals and granted pardons to two, marking the highest number of commutations he has granted at one time and more than doubling his total since taking office. Obama has now granted 184 commutations, which is more than the last five presidents combined.
December 17, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
On December 15, the U.S. Department of Justice released new guidance for combatting gender bias in law enforcement response to sexual and domestic violence.
November 3, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The White House on Monday unveiled new measures to ease the re-entry process for formerly incarcerated people, an announcement that marks a continuation of the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce incarceration’s collateral effects. One of those efforts is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent vote on a proposal to cap exorbitant prison calling rates and fees for in-state calls.
November 2, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
In Newark, N.J., on Monday, President Obama announced a series of measures designed to help the re-entry process for formerly incarcerated people.
October 22, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123) by a 15-5 vote, proving to Chairman Chuck Grassley, R. Iowa, that the Senate “can thoughtfully address the most serious and complex matters in prison sentencing.”
October 2, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
A bipartisan group of senators on October 1 – including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R. Iowa; Dick Durbin, D. Ill.; Patrick Leahy, D. Vt.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D. R.I.; John Cornyn, R. Texas; Mike Lee, R. Utah; Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y.; Cory Booker, D. N.J.; Lindsay Graham, R. S.C.; and Tim Scott, R. S.C. – introduced the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, a major criminal justice reform package aimed at reducing some mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and curbing recidivism.
More Information On
Social Justice Brief: A Social Work Perspective on Drug Policy Reform - National Association of Social Workers
Reclaiming Our Rights: Reflections on Racial Profiling in a Post-9/11 America - Rights Working Group (2011)
The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs - The Sentencing Project
A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society - The Sentencing Project
Critical Condition: African American Youth in the Justice System (pdf) - Campaign for Youth Justice
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.