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U.S. Report: Ways of addressing the nation’s scale of incarceration

20th October 2015

The United States maintains its distinction as the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A report entitled, “The State of Sentencing 2014 Developments in Policy and Practice” was published by The Sentencing Project who are a national non-profit organization in the U S. The report documents the range of law and policy changes which were authorised by legislators in at least 30 states during 2014 which may have the effect of addressing the nation’s scale of incarceration. 

Some of the changes in law/policy as documented by the report are as follows:

  • Voters in California approved reclassifying certain low-level offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, eliminating prison as a sentencing option. Lawmakers in Mississippi scaled back the state’s truth-in-sentencing provision from 85% to 50% for violent offenses.
  • Three states – Mississippi, New York, and Oklahoma – adopted changes to probation and parole policies that expand sentencing alternatives.
  • At least 14 states and the District of Columbia enacted legislation to scale back collateral consequences associated with a criminal conviction, including employment bans and federal felony drug bans on public assistance.
  • At least 15 states adopted reforms, including eliminating juvenile life without parole as a sentencing option in West Virginia and Hawaii. Kentucky and Hawaii also enacted comprehensive juvenile justice reform measures to reduce the use of out-of-home placement for juveniles and prioritize therapeutic interventions as a public safety strategy.

To read the full report: click here