New Report on Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019
Date:  01-18-2020

U.S. has over 2.2 million people incarcerated and another 4.6 million on probation or parole
From The Sentencing Project:

The United States is a world leader in incarceration and keeps nearly 7 million persons under criminal justice supervision. More than 2.2 million are in prison or jail, while 4.6 million are monitored in the community on probation or parole. More punitive sentencing laws and policies, not increases in crime rates, have produced this high rate of incarceration. Ending mass incarceration will require changing sentencing policies and practices, scaling back the collateral consequences of conviction, and addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. In recent years most states have enacted reforms designed to reduce the scale of incarceration and the impact of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. This briefing paper describes key reforms undertaken in 2019 prioritized by The Sentencing Project.


California lawmakers passed Senate Bill 136 to repeal the one-year sentence enhancement for each prior prison or county jail felony term. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation estimated that 10,000 persons currently incarcerated were serving a sentence that included a one-year enhancement. Delaware lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 47, a measure that removes geographic-based sentencing enhancements – “drug free” school zones – that disproportionately impact those living in urban areas and are known to exacerbate racially disparate sentencing outcomes. In recent years, New Jersey, Indiana, and Utah adopted legislation to scale back drug zone sentencing enhancements.

Oklahoma policymakers enacted House Bill 1269 to retroactively apply a 2016 ballot measure that reclassified low-level felony drug and property offenses to misdemeanors and increased the felony theft threshold from $500 to $1,000. Following adoption, the state’s Pardon and Parole Board established an accelerated commutation process to qualify persons sentenced under the old law for early release. More than 400 Oklahomans were approved for expedited commutations in 2019. Continue reading >>>