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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

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.

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Sentencing Commission: Reduced Drug Sentencing Guidelines Apply Retroactively

July 18, 2014 - Posted by Connor Maxwell

In a decision released on Friday, the United States Sentencing Commission applied its April drug amendment – a comprehensive two-level reduction in guidelines sentencing for defendants in drug trafficking cases – retroactively without limitation, meaning that many offenders currently in prison could be eligible for reduced sentences beginning November 2015.

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New Prison Phone Rate Caps Take Effect

February 18, 2014 - Posted by Avril Lighty

The Federal Communications Commission's​ (FCC) long-awaited cap on interstate prison phone rates took effect on February 11. 

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Convening Highlights Bipartisan Support for Significant Criminal Justice Reform

February 13, 2014 - Posted by Patrick McNeil

At an event Tuesday co-sponsored by The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Vera Institute of Justice titled "A Conversation on Criminal Justice: A Call to Action for the Nation," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, bipartisan members of Congress, and a panel of experts led a discussion on current criminal justice reform opportunities in Congress and strategies for building a sustained national commitment to ending mass incarceration.

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Senate Committee Advances Significant Criminal Justice Reform

January 31, 2014 - Posted by Patrick McNeil

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to advance the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014, legislation introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D. Ill., and Mike Lee, R. Utah, that would begin to stem the tide of persons incarcerated for long drug sentences and reduce the associated costs of incarceration.

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DOJ Announces 'Smart on Crime' Initiative to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

August 12, 2013 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

This morning in a speech before the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would avoid charging low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who are not tied directly to large-scale trafficking organizations, gangs, or cartels with crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentencing.

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Sen. Leahy Introduces Bill to Uphold the Promise of Gideon v. Wainright Ruling

March 21, 2013 - Posted by Monica We

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court decision establishing that under the Constitution states are required to provide a lawyer to criminally charged defendants who cannot otherwise afford one.

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Anti-Death Penalty Advocates Celebrate Maryland Victory, Prepare for Next States

March 21, 2013 - Posted by Philomena Ogalo

With the passage last week of a bill to repeal the death penalty, Maryland will become the sixth state to end capital punishment in the last six years and the first below the Mason-Dixon Line.

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Supreme Court Says Mandatory Life Sentences without Parole for Juvenile Offenders Are Cruel and Unusual Punishment

June 26, 2012 - Posted by Willie Roberson

On June 25th, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for offenders who were younger than 18 when their crimes were committed violate the Constitution’s 8th Amendment provision prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.

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Civil Rights Groups and Conservative Leaders Urge FCC to End Practice of Predatory Prison Phone Rates

May 21, 2012 - Posted by Avril Lighty

With a joint letter and a press call, civil rights groups and conservative leaders have united to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reform prison phone rates.

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