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December 15, 2022

The Sentencing Project releases (already dated) review of "Top Trends in Criminal Justice Reform, 2022"

The folks at The Sentencing Project yesterday released this terrific new fact sheet that reviews a number of state criminal justice reforms developments in this past year.  I recommend the short document in full for all the reviewed details, but here is part of the overview:

State lawmakers in at least 15 states and Washington D.C. adopted policy reforms in 2022 that may contribute to decarceration and addressing collateral consequences while promoting effective approaches to public safety.  This briefing paper provides an overview of recent policy reforms in the areas of extreme sentencing and decarceration, drug policy, prison reform, probation and parole, guaranteeing voting rights, and youth justice.

Changes in criminal justice policy were realized for various reasons, including an interest in managing prison capacity. Lawmakers have demonstrated interest in enacting reforms that recognize that the nation’s scale of incarceration has produced diminishing returns for public safety.  However, stakeholders working to reform adult and youth criminal legal system practices also encountered rhetoric on increases in violent crime which impacted the ability to adopt significant reforms like the repeal of mandatory minimum sentences and expansion of alternatives to incarceration for prison bound defendants.  Consequently, legislators and other stakeholders have prioritized implementing policies that provide a more balanced approach to public safety.  The evolving framework is rooted in reducing returns to prison for technical violations, expanding alternatives to prison for persons convicted of low level offenses and authorizing earned release for prisoners who complete certain rehabilitation programs.

Interestingly, more than half the states with notable reforms in the past year referenced in this report are so-called red states (e.g., Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming). And I call this review "already dated" because early this morning, Ohio moved a significant step closer to being another red state to complete significant criminal justice reform this year.  This local article reports the basics:

Ohio lawmakers finalized a sweeping criminal justice reform bill Thursday morning that backers say will reduce the burden on previously incarcerated Ohioans and reduce the likelihood that they return to prison.

Senate Bill 288 tackles a wide range of reforms, including changes that would make it easier to expunge criminal records and shorten prison sentences.  The bill got considerably longer Wednesday when lawmakers added distracted driving prohibitions, anti-corruption measures and increased penalties for failing to report elder abuse.

December 15, 2022 at 09:36 AM | Permalink

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