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.
October 31, 2014 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
New guidelines that sensibly reduce sentences for most drug trafficking offenses – approved unanimously in April by the United States Sentencing Commission – will go into effect on Saturday, November 1.
September 26, 2014 - Posted by Julie Faust
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn on September 27 issued a joint statement announcing that they are circulating proposals to their fellow commissioners on further prison phone rate reform.
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.
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.
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.
November 21, 2013 - Posted by Hannah Cornfield
With more than two million people behind bars in the United States, Blacks incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites, and 95 percent of the formerly incarcerated reentering their communities, civil rights advocates say our nation’s criminal justice system is in serious need of reform.
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.
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.
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.
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.