Voting Rights for Some

As the elections heat up and many people engage in the election process, let’s think about basic voting rights. There are a huge number of citizens who are intentionally and entirely excluded from the election process because voting rights are often stripped from people who have been convicted of felonies. Most of these people are… Read More

2016 Presidential Candidates on Prison Reform and Mass Incarceration

For our final post in our three-part series focused on the 2016 presidential election, we take a look at the candidates’ views on mass incarceration and prison reform. We touched on this briefly in the previous post centered on the Black Lives Matter movement, but today we’ll dive a little deeper into specific initiatives regarding… Read More

Mental Illness and the Law

  Many of the important justice issues discussed here –police brutality, wrongful convictions, mistreatment in prison, and mass incarceration – are magnified when the justice system encounters people with mental illness. On every level, our criminal justice system fails the mentally ill. The results are beyond appalling. Let’s consider it step by step. Police encounters… Read More

Martin Luther King Day and You

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. On Martin Luther King Day this year, let’s think about how we can contribute to fighting injustice. All year, we blog about how broken our criminal justice system is, but we rarely talk about what can be done about it on a… Read More

How Does US Justice Stack Up? An International Comparison

As we near the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect, so I thought I’d examine how the United States compares to other countries in matters of policing and criminal justice. Unfortunately, an international comparison of criminal justice statistics shows just how far behind our country is. Police shootings: This… Read More

Too Many Women in Prison

We’ve talked here a lot about our nation’s mass incarceration problem, but I was surprised to learn that the fastest growing prison population in the United States is women. While over 80-90% of the U.S. prison population is male, the number of women in prison jumped 646% between 1980 and 2010, making women the fastest… Read More

Sentencing Reform to End Mass Incarceration

President Obama’s recent prison visit to Cellblock B of the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma inspires hope that maybe our country is finally ready to address its mass incarceration problem. The president’s prison tour, coupled with his acknowledgement that our country’s excessive prison sentences for nonviolent offenders exact an enormous moral and financial… Read More

End Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences are prison sentences set by lawmakers rather than judges, where a statute requires an automatic, minimum prison terms for certain crimes, without permitting the judge to impose a more lenient sentence when the situation warrants. Without mandatory minimum sentences, the judge can consider factors like the defendant’s prior record, a history of… Read More

The Era of Mass Incarceration

In one of her first speeches of the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton spoke of ending the “era of mass incarceration” and furthered the spotlight on the troubling issue of over-incarceration in this country.  Tony Newman, of the Huffington Post, recently noted that “America is the number one jailer in the planet, with under five… Read More