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.
July 29, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The House of Representatives passed by voice vote on Tuesday a bill that will create a bipartisan, national commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the U.S. criminal justice system and make recommendations for reform.
July 27, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
UPDATE 2: President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act on August 3, 2010.
UPDATE: The House of Representatives passed the Fair Sentencing Act by voice vote on July 28, 2010. Read The Leadership Conference statement on the vote.
Advocates are calling on the House of Representatives to pass the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 this week, which would reform a law that created a sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine. Under current law, a person with five grams of crack cocaine – the weight of two sugar packets – receives the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as someone with 500 grams of cocaine, which is about a pound.
July 12, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Civil and human rights leaders recently testified before a House subcommittee about the continuing problem of racial profiling in America and urged lawmakers to pass legislation outlawing the practice.
June 18, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
At a June 17 public policy forum on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, scholars and civil rights advocates urged lawmakers to treat drug use as more of a public health problem than a criminal justice issue.
June 16, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The explosion of the prison population in recent decades is enabling towns where the prisons are located to unjustly increase their political power by counting inmates as legal residents, according to "Captive Constituents," a new report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).
June 10, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
South Carolina has enacted a new law overhauling the state's drug sentencing policy, eliminating sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine and removing mandatory minimum sentences for first-time offenders.
June 4, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
According to a new study by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), African Americans are disproportionately excluded from jury service in the South, especially in criminal trials and death penalty cases.
June 2, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically reinterpreted its landmark Miranda decision by requiring criminal suspects to invoke their right to remain silent with a clear, explicit statement.
May 18, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The U.S. Supreme Court held yesterday (6-3) that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment does not permit the imposition of a life sentence without the possibility of parole for juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses.
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
Latest on criminal justice from Unfinished Business.
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.