Almost Half of States Acted in 2012 to Cut Inmates or Aid Re-Entry


Legislators in 24 states adopted 41 criminal justice policies last year that may contribute to downscaling prison populations and eliminating barriers to inmate reentry while promoting effective approaches to public safety, says The Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to incarceration. The group says that seven states – Alabama, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, Kansas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania – revised mandatory penalties for certain offenses including crack cocaine possession and drug offense enhancements; Connecticut became the 17th state to eliminate the death penalty. Two states – Louisiana and Oklahoma – authorized or expanded mechanisms to modify sentences post-conviction, allowing prosecutors and judges to reduce the prison sentences of people who meet eligibility requirements.

Seven states – Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, and Pennsylvania — enacted probation and parole reforms, including expanding the use of earned time for eligible prisoners and limiting the use of incarceration for probation and parole violations; and three states — California, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania – authorized sentencing relief for some people sentenced to juvenile life without parole.

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